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I finish my story in our eternal city of Jerusalem. A city of such beauty and wonder, not even the darkest shadow of terror can have domain for longer than an hour or two. That is the time it takes to clear a scene of carnage so that it appears never to have happened.

As I drive by the shuttered frontage of the latest bombing, I see it is aglow with the light of a hundred flickering memorial candles. I still have fresh memories of similar candle glasses perched on those rails at Birkenau and I realise that, even after 60 years and in our very own capital city, we are still not free of our pursuers.

My father lived just long enough to see Jerusalem liberated in 1967 but, much as he had dreamed of it, he never had the chance to pray at the Western Wall. I think of him every time I go there, knowing that he would be proud that my two eldest sons are learning in local yeshivas.

On Friday night, I have the choice of countless shuls in this area of Jerusalem but, whenever I am here, my preference is Breslov. It is a shul that attracts all types, from Chassidim to Hippies, and a place where Lecha Dodi is a half-hour celebration of singing and dancing. I looked around the place as this unlikely mix of Jewish orthodoxy sang and clapped their rousing welcome to the Queen Shabbos. I realized that most of these locals lived within earshot of the latest bombing and many must have been deeply affected by it. But you would never know it. Those faces were as joyous and happy as if, despite the terror and the recession, they had not a care in the world.

It came home to me that, for our people, Shabbos is a process of weekly renewal that cleanses us just as surely and efficiently as those volunteers who clear the sidewalks of any vestige of terror and tragedy.

Only a nation capable of such renewal could possibly have risen from the ashes of the Holocaust, let alone reached such world-beating heights. Such a nation - our Jewish nation - will surely overcome any obstacle and every challenge placed in its path.


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© Zalmi Unsdorfer 2003