We are not going to make the right hand turn to see the upscale art shuk. Known as the upscale shuk because they charge more and there are cats.
We are at the Kotel. We did not make any wrong turns. We are alive.
Jews come together here, in the place that was a retaining wall for the Great Temple, which the Divine Presence never left, to compete for Minyanim/quoroms (to use two words you do not understand).
Yes, that guy is screaming. He is not angry at you. He is inviting you to join him in prayer. He is yelling at you for the sake of Gd.
If you have any leftover pamphlets from those people at the entrance to the Old City, about tours that are better than mine, you can throw them on the ground here. It is acceptable to throw unwanted paper on the floor.
Many people have a tradition of writing notes that they are not satisfied with and then discarding them at the Kotel. Other people have a tradition of not cleaning up. I have a tradition of reading them.
The tradition probably began back in the days when people did not have access to Israel. Recycling was not an option at the time, and littering was illegal. So people told their friends, traveling to Israel, to bring their extra papers to the Kotel.
People walk backwards when leaving the Kotel, as it is a tradition to bump into other people.
Be ready to push. A lot of pushing happens at the Kotel, especially on a Friday night, Shabbat Eve. The pushing happens to test the threshold of you in prayer and meditation. To see if your prayers for forgiveness are really true, people push and do not say ‘excuse me.’
The goal of the services is to see who can be louder. There are many choices, especially on a Friday night. How do you chose who to join? I go for the fastest. You might want to go for the one that dances and sings ‘Nay Nay Nay,’ if you have a good three hours and no Shabbat meal you have to be at. Another option is to go to the one with the most crowded table.
Never join a minyan with a guy who is whispering. He is leading services for himself. He was chosen to lead the service, because they thought he was righteous and very modest when he didn’t answer them, upon being asked if he can lead the service. They didn’t realize he is mute. Go to the guy who is yelling at you, bothering the other services in the middle of their silent prayer (known as the Amidah). You can hear him.
It is always fun to sing the song, ‘We are minyan number one, number one, number one, where is number two.’ The song goes onto ‘We are minyan number two, where is number three.’ And it even continues. Tons of fun. Can do the song for each service. For instance, ‘We are minyan number three…where is number four.’ And it continues as such. What makes it even more fun is that the minyans are not numbered.
If you do not know what minyan means, you are now lost.
If in the women’s section, you can sing, ‘We are the women’s section, where is the men’s section.’ That is kind of where the song stops for the women.
From the women’s side, you can listen into a minyan through the partition fence. Your choices are based on whomever cares enough for women to join the minyan and prays near the partition fence. Usually you are stuck with a guy you cannot hear, who is dancing.
That golden separation is the partition fence of the Kotel, due to the threat of women. The fence keeps the women on the women’s side.
Bar Mitzvahs are Jewish ritual where we reprimand a 13 year old in public. In recent history, parents have made it a practice to bring the prepubescent teen to the Kotel. As there are more people at the Kotel, it allows the parents to practice this tradition of embarrassing the kid in front of more people, which allows for a more collective abusive feeling.
I will explain the ritual to you.
First you sit there and wait for the Bar Mitzvah boy to make a mistake, when reading the non-marked letters in non-marked sentences. Then you berate him in front of all the guests, shouting out the correct word, from you marked book.
After correcting him, you whip candies at the young boy. This reminds him how much he messed up and why he will never be a good man. We would throw rocks, but that is a non-Jewish tradition at the Kotel. That is generally practiced after services at the Dome of The Rock.
Then, as the Bar Mitzvah boy gives a speech, which his parents wrote, about how much he appreciates his parents. In the middle of this sermon, in which he also talks about his younger sister, to get a cute giggle, which comes before the song that his friends wrote, about how is so cool- because he goes to school, which rhymes, You scream at him, ‘Louder!!!Project!!!’ This is not to be confused with joining another minyan at the Kotel. It is important to not work with him on projecting beforehand, as that would not allow for the traditional public display of embarrassment. Sometimes, you will notice that they whip more candy at the prepubescent teen at this point, if he has not yet been injured.
Till the Temple is rebuilt, Jews are in a time of mourning. As such, the kotel is a kind of punishment. A place where we go to pray for the redemption. To celebrate this mourning, it is also a tradition to take out a piece of the house. Many Jews in Israel practice this tradition of taking out a piece of the house. My dad, who lives in America, got angry at this concept, exclaiming, ‘We already have enough damage.’
Every time my brother comes to Israel, he rips his shirt when he sees the Kotel, as to show he is mourning. He was also a wrestler back in the ’80s, so he has it down. People do not strip down to the underwear though, at the Kotel. It is all a show of mourning with my family. Always Tisha BAv with the Kilimnicks.
You will also notice Yarmulkes that are at the Kotel. You can take them, as nobody will go out of their way to make you feel uncomfortable for stealing. The Yamulkes are made out of cloth.
Paper Kippahs (put in picture) is what they used to distribute, in order to make non-religious people look like idiots- Making the people wear yarmulkes that were used for serving nachos. The paper yarmulkes were made from the Jewish Origami tradition of stapling.
They have started handing out cloth on the women’s side, so that they can cover up the immodest women who are showing shoulders. What is considered immodest? Comfort. Other things that are considered immodest are anything that Miley Cyrus would wear.
Cloth is not handed out on the men’s side, as the men are fine with women dressed like Miley Cyrus.
Who will you see at the Kotel? Who knows. Probably a good buddy from back in the day.
That guy praying with all that fervor. No idea who he is. Definitely not Jewish. He is too involved with his prayers to be Jewish.
The Temple was known as house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah), and that guy is taking it too far. Yes, that man is sleeping at the Kotel. If somebody can tell him that it is not his home and that squatting at the Kotel is wrong.
Bring small change. There will be people asking for charity, as it is a religious ritual to not work if people are sharing their money with you. Jews believe in the importance of giving charity and the importance of taking it. We also believe in disrupting people when they are praying. People are more likely to give money when they are praying for their financial well-being. You do not want to be stuck pulling out a big bill.
You cannot just say no to a beggar, or you will get a look. And yes, the look makes you feel uncomfortable. The only way to avoid it is to have a good ear, so you can run away whenever you hear jingling. As a tourist, it is all part of the experience to get ripped off by everybody. Giving charity is another way of getting very little for what you spend.
I gave a guy a 2 shekel piece and he whipped it right back at me. I know of the importance of charity, but I didn’t know the price went up. My story is brought as an anecdote, to teach you that you want to avoid all poor people.
If you have big bills, the next thing you know, your beggar is turning into a money changer. And beggars’ have the worst rates in the country. They don’t even exchange different currencies. They take your 20 shekels and turn it into 10 shekel. And then they ask you for the 10 shekel they gave you. It is a very bad exchange system.
Robinson’s Arch is located to the right of the Kotel and hosts the egalitarian services, when Women of The Wall are tired. It is the extension of the wall to the south. Named after the American to name discover the thing sticking out of the wall, it now belongs to Robinson. Robinson noticed it and he called dibs. It is Robinson’s. He pointed to it. He said, ‘That is an arch sticking out.’ He noticed that it was not an arc.