By David Wiseman, The Israel Forever Foundation
My grandmother is a week shy of her 98th birthday. She is the last remaining of my four grandparents and, unfortunately, she hasn’t been feeling well recently and is now in the hospital.
The moment I heard the news, I decided to visit the Kotel (The Western Wall), since I’m blessed to live only minutes away in Jerusalem. So, after work I headed down and was met by those massive stones. As I surveyed the scene, I saw people of all ages. There are no atheists in these foxholes and I must say that it is very hard to find one at the Kotel. Most feel the power of the stones and from there, emotions are let loose.
If tears could melt stone, the Kotel wouldn’t be standing.
If hopes and dreams could make them fly, there would be a wall floating around somewhere in space.
One paradox about the Kotel is the concept of time. It is governed by time – the time to pray three times a day. The thousands who visit it on Shabbat and even more during the Jewish holidays.
On the other hand, it is timeless. For thousands of years it hasn’t just been a physical landmark, but an emotional one. My grandmother was born in 1915. Israel didn’t come into existence until she was 32, and she was only 51 when Jerusalem was reunified.
Thankfully, she has been to the Kotel, but there will come a time when her journey will come to an end, like all of us. I’ve realized, though, that our connection to Israel, the Jewish people – this connection is timeless. We’ve been exiled and scattered and despite being stretched to the four corners of the world, our hearts, thoughts and prayers have always aimed towards Jerusalem.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Kotel many times, and every time I am overwhelmed by a cocktail of emotions – excitement, joy and a sense of ease. Every time I leave it is with a sense of remorse.
Farewells are never easy – not to the Kotel and especially not to a grandparent. But with the upcoming Jewish New Year, my next prayer at the Kotel will be that my beloved grandmother will be granted a Sweet New Year and inscribed in the Book of Life.