I woke up yesterday morning in Jerusalem to the sound of doves cooing outside. It was the start of a stunning day in the Holy City. Sitting here again in the quiet hotel with everyone I their rooms, it’s hard to believe all that we have already experienced, and difficult to conceive of what we have to look forward to. After breakfast (we’ve been eating delicious hummus at every meal!) walked to the Old City from our hotel, passing through Herod’s gate. When I first set eyes on the Wailing Wall was I felt that we had truly arrived. We could see the Dome of the Rock over the Western Wall, and our guide pointed out that we were in the midst of the most sacred and sensitive places in the world.
We split into male and female groups to approach the Wall, and I made my way up with a group of boys. Each of us donned a kippa, and we wove our way gingerly through throngs of fervently praying men and boys. We each wrote a note on a page torn from my journal; I wrote a prayer and put it into a fissure as high over my head as I could reach: “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Stepping back from the Wall, I sat in a plastic chair to take it all in. I closed my eyes and was engulfed in all of the sounds surrounding me – passionate praying and loud chanting and the singing of the birds perched on the Wall. I opened my eyes and an elderly man in Orthodox garb smiled at me. I no longer felt like a stranger or a tourist – I felt a connection. The rest of our morning included walking the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) and visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as King David’s Tomb and the Upper Room on Mount Zion. There is so much to see and to absorb- and to do so in the company of such a fine of seniors and adults is truly a gift. More to come!