On Erev Simchat Torah, my brother asked me if I’d be interested in walking with him to the Kotel (Western Wall) for Hakafot. Usually, my answer would be yes, with no hesitation. But to be honest, this week’s news made me a little nervous to give the enthusiastic yes I usually would have given him. I told him I’d think about it and let him know. I thought for a few minutes, and ultimately decided I was going. My uncle Moshe thought it was a great idea, and that he’d tag along.
Now, I’m aware that walking through the Old City isn’t the safest of ideas these days. The stabbings, rock throwing, and Molotov cocktails weren’t things I was looking forward to seeing in person. But there are things that are more important than safety. If we’re too afraid to walk to the Kotel, we lose. We give in to terror. We accept defeat, and Jerusalem isn’t really ours anymore. It’s extremely important that we keep going to the Kotel in spite of the terror.
Normally, I love going to the Kotel. It’s one of the places I most connect to in the world. My Bar Mitzvah was held there. I took my girlfriend there on one of our first dates last year. I go to the flag dance on Jerusalem Day which ends up in the Western Wall Plaza. It’s a place I feel very connected to, and I decided that no terrorist is going to dictate whether I go there or not. I know what my nation has given up to re-gain access to the Kotel, and it felt like going in these troubled times would be completing a small piece of that puzzle. The plan was to walk there in the morning, walk through the Rova (Jewish Quarter), and reach the Kotel for davening.
I woke up with an uneasy, yet excited feeling, knowing that I was about to walk to the holiest place we can reach (for now). Something about Jerusalem always feels so holy, an unexplainable feeling that comes from the heart. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and feel connected to it’s past, it’s present and it’s future.
As we entered the Old City, my uncle suggested showing solidarity by walking through the Arab shuk (marketplace). I try to avoid the shuk as much as possible, but I too felt the importance of it this time. We walked through the different areas we’d seen on the news during the past week. My uncle felt the need to point out the locations of the heinous attacks as we reached them. It’s important to show the Arabs that no matter how much they think they’ve succeeded, they’ll never win. Every step felt like we were representing the entire Nation of Israel. We wished Chag Sameach and thanked every one of the soldiers and police men that we passed. Every single one of them thanked us for not being afraid to walk through there.
As we walked out of the Shuk, the first thing I saw was the gigantic Israeli flag waving from the Kotel Plaza. Blue and white are the prettiest colors in the world, and to see them waving in front of the ancient stones was incredibly meaningful. It was the connection from our past to our present and future, symbolizing that while our nation may have lost some of our best people this week, the eternity of Israel will live forever. The Hakafot at the Kotel were even more special than usual, knowing that we were on a mission for something bigger than just the three of us.
This is our country, our land. This is our city, and our Kotel. We’re here to stay, and no one is going to take that away from us. The victims of the attacks we’ve suffered in the past week wouldn’t want us to back down from the terrorists. They’d tell us to keep moving forward, to keep walking in their footsteps. It’s our mission to continue theirs. Am Yisrael Chai.