This one time, on Birthright…
From the mind of Adam Daniel Miller
North. East. South. West. Only one of these has a famous wall associated with it. And my what a fine wall it is. I am, of course, referring to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. A wall of such magnificence, of such magnitude, of such meaning and of such a multitude of other words that begin with the letter ‘m’ that I have no choice but to blog about it here.
Coming on Birthright, I only expected one thing. To have a great time. Being eight days in as of writing this, I can easily say that my one expectation has been met and exceeded beyond anything I could have ever fathomed. Having such few expectations, you can imagine there have been a lot of pleasant surprises. Throughout the entire trip, I was very much looking forward to our visit to the Western Wall. I couldn’t explain why, but I knew it was going to be important to me in some manner. What happened there may very well have changed the course of my entire life.
Okay. Maybe not my entire life, but still, it was an experience I never imagined I would have at what some consider “just a bunch of rocks”. Those people are stupid by the way. But moving on from that and going back to my thoughts on the wall, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do, what was going to be written on my note, or how I would emotionally connect. Talking to one of my new Israeli friends, I learned that a strong way to go was simply to talk. Not pray for anything, no note, talk. But then again, each of us take the wall in a different way.
Approaching the wall, I was impressed by its size and felt bad for the women for having such a small section relative to the men. Funny how that has no real influence to my own journey with the wall but I felt it had to be mentioned. Back to me, as arrogant as that always sounds. I approached the wall slowly, not knowing exactly how to begin. I looked around and saw the wall was decidedly spacious. The sun had just gone down and I learned right after there was an inside part for the men…with heat. Useful information I would liked to have had earlier. Thankfully, my time with the wall was not hindered, as cold as it was.
I meet the wall with a rough outline of what I wanted to do. I had a note, only with bullet points, and I was going to talk. Say what came from the heart. I could of never imagined I would have stayed on the wall for so long. I just kept talking. Saying things I had no idea were on my mind. Feeling ways I had only felt previously in dreams. Emotions were hitting me in such unexpected ways. I didn’t want to remove my head and hand from the cold, comforting surface. I felt like I had never listened to myself and finally I was.
I cried. Not a lot because they were man tears, but still, I cried. I’m not ashamed to say it. It felt right. Appropriate even. I could even say I felt relief. What was coming through my mind was, in a word, wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for more. Except heat. I was on the wall for 15 maybe 20 minutes and it was cold but that was no real concern of mine. This may not be long compared to some, but for me, well, it was an amount of time I never expected. My entire moment with the wall was more than I expected. I never wanted to let go. I felt safe, comfortable and true.
Once I started going into circles with my thoughts, I knew it was time to go. I wiped away my tears, man tears I remind you, and took my steps back from the wall, content with the notion of avoiding eye contact with anyone, at least for a moment or so. I took that moment or so to take it all in. All I had said, the fact I was in Jerusalem at the Western Wall saying it and that I had just, for once in my life, truly listened to myself. Something I hope to do much more often. The Western Wall will forever hold a very special place in my life. A place I didn’t even know existed but was always there. To sum it up, I just have one more thing to say:
This one time, on Birthright…I had the privilege of visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and had one of those moments that happens very rarely in life. One that I know will stick with me always. That will never fail to show up in my memory. That will make me a better person. That will honestly have an impact on every single step I take. Starting with the first steps I took back from wall.
Thank you Shorashim, Birthright and Israel for giving me that moment.