Tears Sailing at the Wailing Wall
After concluding last night’s festivities in Tel Aviv, we headed over to Jerusalem. The hour bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was filled with dreams of the overwhelming emotions, historical, and religious sites to be experienced throughout the day.
What better way to learn about the history than walking the same paths that many of our ancestors had walked before? The walking tour we embarked upon after arriving in Jerusalem had us ducking through different levels of the streets, spiraling through the limestone staircases, discussing history as we sipped on iced coffees and fruit smoothies – and yes, friends and families, we drank LOTS of water during the heat wave! During water breaks, we took in the history of The Old City, breaking down the four quarters (neighborhoods) on a map. These quarters are named after the ethnic affiliation of the people that lived in them: Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian.
Before heading to the Western Wall, we learned how the temple had been put up; the Kotel (or the Western Wall) was one of the walls on top of the mountain that had held up the actual temple - because as you can imagine, it is difficult to put a temple on an arched top of the hill! We then headed to an open area and talked about a more recent understanding/meaning of the Kotel. This interpretation is that the Western Wall emanated the powerful connection that Jews have for one another and the closeness of the community even if we have not met members of that community before. It was very powerful.
We continued to the Kotel wall. Those that felt comfortable walked up to it and others walked around the Kotel area. The preferred place to sit was in the shade to keep out of the sun. I am not able to speak for everyone’s experience, but it was very interesting for me to be there. We come from all walks of life and our connection to the wall, the history, and/or the religion is as unique and profound as the bricks of the wall and as the people weeping with prayer, or visiting there for the first, second or third time. It was fascintating to discuss these different experiences with the group.
After a long day, we went to a hotel a few minutes away, showered, ate and prepared ourselves for Yad Vashem tomorrow, as well as pack for our next night in the Bedouin Tents.