Matthew explores the nine quarters of Israel’s capital

THE idea to write a book about Jerusalem had been in Matthew Teller’s mind for nearly 40 years.

It was back in 1980 that Matthew, who is now a well-known author and journalist, first visited the Israeli capital.

Two years later, he returned for his barmitzvah at the Western Wall.

“I remember it being very, very hot,” Matthew told me from his home in Oxfordshire.

“In the days just before, I think there was some sort of attack and then I remember debates in the family sitting in our rented apartment in Jerusalem about whether the barmitzvah should go ahead or not.

“Obviously, I was saying we shouldn’t go ahead because I was scared of doing the barmitzvah — not the terrorism, or whatever it was.

“I wanted everyone to cancel, but they didn’t, so I stumbled my way through it.”

His travels there have led him to pen Nine Quarters of Jerusalem (Profile Books, Ł16.99), which will be published on Thursday.

The book features not just Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab communities, but also its Greek, Armenian and Syriac communities, its African and Indian voices, and its Sufi mystics.

The book also discussed the sources of Jerusalem’s holiness and the ideas that have shaped lives within its walls.

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