Israel is being hit by an amazing winter storm. Snow in many parts of the country – including some that haven’t seen snow in a decade or more. After several “threats” – reality has come in the form of a beautiful white (in some places), thundery sleet and rain (in other places) Friday where most of us are just choosing to sit in our homes and gaze outside. For once, we’re not in a rush to get to work, to do the shopping, to meet a deadline. We’re just …loving it.
Last night, as I prepared the challah dough for our synagogue’s community lunch (50 small rolls), dinner at a friend’s (3 challah loaves), bread for my oldest son and his wife who are not joining us (3 more small loaves), and more…I took a break and checked how the weather was doing.
Snow in Jerusalem, roads closed, no school in the Golan, Jerusalem and elsewhere, buses in and out of my city stopped. I clicked on a link and got to the live webcam service that often calls to me.
Around the clock, during the morning prayers or in the dead of night, you can see men and women making their way to the Western Wall, the Kotel, to pray, to beseech God, to thank Him, to just enjoy the holiness of a place that seems timeless. It has survived so much, this single remaining retainer wall of the Temple Mount and it has seen and heard so much. It is beyond the insults of our enemies who suggest it is merely the place that Mohammed parked his donkey.
They can ignore that we had two Holy Temples in the place where their mosque now stands…centuries before the world ever heard of Islam and a man named Mohammed and his reinterpretation/misinterpretation of our tradition. All that means nothing to the ones who come to touch, to pray, to feel.
The secrets of my 16 year old heart came pouring out the first time I sat beside the wall; the prayer for a child before I even knew at that moment I was already pregnant with our oldest daughter; the desperate request to bless us again when I was 5 months pregnant with our second and had the audacity to ask for God’s blessing for yet another healthy beautiful child…the one who grew up to become an artillery commander and lives nearby with his wife and daughter.
And the prayer for yet another child, when God had been so kind to have blessed us with four…let this one too grace our lives…and she does, every single day.
I prayed that we would come home and went often to give my thanks when we did. I stood there when my son was at war and cried with every fear in my soul and I stood there twice when sons returned safely in body and soul from Poland.
So many visits, even in the middle of the night. There are no words that can explain to someone who has never been there…no way to explain this channel to the heavens that suddenly opens when you are there.
So last night, I wanted to see the Kotel in snow, a rare and wonderful occurrence in Israel. Even before I could figure out what I was seeing, I understood what I was hearing.
They were singing…in the snow…and wait, they were dancing…at almost 1:00 in the morning, they were singing and dancing as the snow came down in a fury of swirling white particles.
And as I watched them with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I thought of two things – one was the phrase “dance like no one is watching” because other than knowing God was above them, that’s what they were doing….
And the second was – this…here…this moment unseen by the world…this is Israel. This is really what it is all about to live here – just joy, just dancing in the snow. Free. We dance and sing in our land because we can. All the rest – it’s nothing compared to this moment.
We don’t live worrying about the next bomb, the next rocket, the next stabbing, the next time they will stone the light rail in Jerusalem. We aren’t stupid. We know it will happen but that’s nothing compared to the knowledge that these moments will come – when we are freer than we have ever been anywhere else in the world.
We are not preoccupied with worrying about whether the world hates us, how many do, how many don’t. We aren’t paranoid, insane, delusional…all we are…is free to dance – in the snow, in the middle of the night in the most beautiful, the most holy place on earth.
At that moment, it is God and land and snow and us…and we …okay, it was them while I was warm inside my home but what you have to understand is that when a Jew dances in our land, he (or she) dances for all Jews everywhere – that’s it, really. We danced last night…and we did it when no one was watching because we don’t need anyone to watch.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey