Day 5: My Shabbat in Jerusalem was like no other I have ever experienced. It was emotional. It was energizing. It was inspiring. It was as though the learning and events of the past week were synthesized into a true feeling of renewal. Through JWRP, G-d is presenting me with a window of opportunity. What will I do with this opportunity? What changes will I make in my household ... in my life? I need to go home and process everything I have taken in. But I am getting ahead of myself, so allow me to tell you about my last 26 hours.
As the sun began to set over Jerusalem, 400 women from all over the US descended upon the Western Wall and made our presence heard. G-d must have felt us. I KNOW he felt us, because I most definitely felt Him. We made concentric circles, held hands and sang Hebrew songs over and over. A group of female soldiers joined in with us and I felt so much gratitude toward them. I was in awe watching the sun set over the Kotel. "G-d, look at me -- it is Shabbat, I am in Jerusalem surrounded by women I have grown to love and — best of all — I am Jewish!" I truly felt like a link in a chain between my anscestors and future generations of the Jewish people. It was hard to keep myself from crying. I now understand why it is called the wailing wall.
We went on to Shabbat dinner at the Inbal Hotel. A lovely young woman from the west coast came over to speak to me, as she grew up in Long Island. We were talking about the experience at the wall that night. She expressed to me that she never considered herself “very Jewish.” And that before the world events of this summer, she never really gave Judaism much thought at all. But this summer she began to wonder things like, “Will it be safe for my children to travel abroad as Jews when they get older? Will it be safe for my kids to attend college in the US? Will Israel still continue to exist for Jews?” I expressed to her that while she may not always identify herself as being "very Jewish", the rest of the world does. We talked about the fact that in WWII, Jewish families were exterminated whether they identified as Jewish or not. I thought, instead of carrying the weight of being Jewish — like a burden -- appreciate the BEAUTY being Jewish.
Today we had Shabbat lunch at the home of a couple, formerly from Manhattan. They were such lovely people and it was great learning their stories. Our host’s father has spent his career involved with Zionist organizations and was instrumental in founding the Israel Day Parade in NYC. The father-in-law of one of our JWRP sisters is the official “Shofar blower” at the same parade. Then I had a thought: JWRP should be marching in the Israel Day Parade!!!! We have so many women from the NY area who are all so passionate about supporting Israel. So, Lori, you may be hearing from us because we’d like to make this happen for 2015!
Amazing Havdallah service on the Aish HaTorah rooftop, rounding out a memorable Shabbat. Shavua Tov, everyone … until next Shabbat!