Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Western Wall and Life Here

I went to the Western Wall - the Kotel today - to see a young boy put tefillin on for the first time. The son of our cousins stood before his parents and showed how much he had been taught this past year learning with his father. It is such a wonderful feeling to gather with family for happy occasions. Too often, it is sadness that brings us together - this time, it was simply joy.

At one point, guards came over and explained that everyone had to move. A suspicious object had been identified, a backpack left abandoned for too long. The guards had tried to find the owner and as time passed, suspicion grew. It happens often enough that there is no panic, no worry. You simply move to the side, trusting those in authority to handle everything so that you can get back to what you were doing.

Those busy at prayer did not want to interrupt - making the work of the guards that much harder. The bomb squad arrived and the men's section was completely cleared. Guards came to the women's side and demanded more forcefully that everyone move. Now. There was no panic; no sense that this was really a bomb.

The tourists almost enjoyed the experience; the Israelis took it in stride knowing...just knowing that nothing would explode this day, in this location. Someone left their bag. It had to be. It had to be...it was.

In most places, the bomb squad takes no chances. They isolate the bag and shoot a low level explosive into it in a controlled explosion. This time, in this holy place, almost the center of the universe, the police didn't want to blow anything up and so the policeman took more of a chance in checking the bag.

Once he was convinced it was harmless, he removed it carefully to the protected bomb container and worshipers were told they could return.

It was a normal day in Jerusalem. Later, Elie told me it was the second time this week this had happened. Nothing exploded; tourists have a story to tell when they return home. I walked up to the Kotel and stood there for a few minutes feeling so at peace. I prayed for the health of my children, for comfort for the families of those who have lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives and parents. I prayed for the recovery of the sick amongst us and for Gilad Shalit to come home, whole and well.

And after filling my mind with prayers, I stood there for a minute and just thought - God, thank you. Thank you for this amazing place you have given us - this land of Israel, this city of Jerusalem, these ancient stones that hear our prayers and direct them to the Heavens above.

I thought of the comment I'd answered recently and looking up, I whispered, "My God, how could anyone live anywhere else but here?"

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I lived and worked in Jerusalem in the early 80's. I actually made aliyah, but without much family there, I eventually left, feeling lost in what is truly a very family oriented country. Recently, a co-worker from China asked me why I would ever want to live or even visit there, with bombings and the constant possibility of war I realized almost immediately, there is no way to explain the feelings that Jews have for Israel. I hope to return some day-I now have a lot of family in Israel-frum and not frum, and I would be welcomed into all their circles. I love your blog, and look forward to all your new entries. Mazel Tov on the wedding of Shmulik and Naama.

ASD

A Soldier's Mother said...

I don't think the feelings we have can be explained to others. It is the connection we feel that crosses all borders and something I really believe to be unique here. It's why we know the names of all our missing soldiers, why we know the names of each soldier hurt or wounded and why each attack hurts us so much. But, it is also our strength and the foundation of the amazing society we have. Hope you look me up with you get here!

Paula

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