Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shabbat Shalom

On Friday’s we aren’t allowed to go into the Old City until after 3pm for safety reasons so I spent the entire day sleeping, eating and watching movies in my bed. My roommate was sick so I told myself I was keeping her company, but really I was just sleeping and watching movies in my bed. After a day of being really lazy of course the only thing I wanted was more laziness, so the thought of going somewhere wasn’t as appealing as it should have been. I promise I would have been appealed if I had known what splendors were in store……….
The Jerusalem Western Wall is considered by Jewish people to be the most sacred site of worship on the Earth. Prior to this week, I didn’t know the Jews don’t have a temple. It was destroyed twice and unlike our temples, they can’t just rebuild in anywhere. It has to be in the same sacred location where it originally stood—here in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock is.  The Western Wall is the outer wall of the temple mount and the closest thing they have to a temple. Accordingly, this is where they go to worship and pray.  (Keep reading. I promise it gets interesting.)
It is also where they routinely welcome the Sabbath on Friday nights (as the Sabbath starts on Friday at sundown).  Last Friday we participated in this celebration and is was RAD.  The men and women are separated by a barrier and on both sides there were huge circles of people holding hands, singing, slapping the ground, raising their hands to the heavens and then dancing round and round. At first we were amidst the many who sat on the outskirts of the circle, wistfully watching the young and old celebrate the coming of the Sabbath. But one by one we were pulled in, usually by robust women grabbing our hands and saying something in Hebrew.  It was surreal dancing, yelling, laughing and pretending to know the words to the Hebrew songs everyone but us was singing. In essence, it was like being swathed with gladness for God and for humanity and for the freedom to worship how we will. The air was thick with religious zeal and I was overcome with the devotion I felt from these people. “Ya’ know, even though this is not exactly how I worship, I feel something special here. I think it is all the same. We are all human.”  That’s what a choked-up, spunky, spiky haired Jewish woman from NYC said to me as we stood next to each other overlooking the wall.
Before leaving I was surrounded by a group of gorgeous 16 year old girls, with dark hair, big brown eyes and flawless olive skin. Most of them spoke smooth English so we talked and laughed until we had to leave. "Do you think the boys of Israel are good looking?" "Do you listen to Beyoncé?" "Do you have a boyfriend?" "You are so beautiful."  This is what they said, proving that girls are universally the same. We all have girl talk. They were beautiful, warm hearted and hilarious. I want to be their friend forever.

When all 82 of us left, we couldn’t talk very well. It was like we wanted to cry but we weren’t sad, we weren’t crying-happy and laughing was cheap. We just looked at each other and made moan-noises and a few breathy wows. 
As cameras were strictly prohibited these Google images will have to do. Forgive me for attempting to describe the indescribable.
See all of that empty space between the wall and the first barrier? Well, it was all FULL. So many people.

Yeah, kinda like that.


Katherine Wallin said...

Wish I had been there. If they only knew Elijah came April 6,183?.
What an experience!

Katherine Wallin said...

Are the Israeli boys cute?

Laurissa said...

Wow, thanks for sharing, that sounds like an amazing experience. I love to meet other religious and just all the other good people in the world.

Miriam said...

That's cool, I really didn't know that wall was that important.

can.moose730 said...

Lizzy - what is going on over there?!?! I'm reading the newspaper and trying to figure out the current Palestinian push for statehood, but it is so biased I just don't know. Inside scoop?! please!!! Sarah and I talk about that and you all the time at work :)