David Mandel
Chief Executive Officer, OHEL Children's Home and Family Services

The Never-Ending Search

Thirty thousand people searching at the Kotel, the Western Wall, hundreds of thousands more throughout Jerusalem, and millions more the world over.

Every year we search on Shavous night.

We search, we question, we yearn for a deeper connection to our Jewish religion, to understand the Torah given to us that night.

That is what brings countless men, women, children to a small strip of magnificent real estate in Yerushalayim filling the streets, the hotels, the air.

That is why my family and I travel to Israel to be at the Kotel Shavous night to revel, to share, to experience the search.

In truth we spend our lives searching.

We search to find our inner selves.
We search for meaning.
We search for happiness.
We search for a good education.
We search for love.
We search for a spouse.
We search for a good school for our children.

And we continue this searching all our lives – from the profound to the mundane.

From the search for a good job, a car, a great recipe, to a well-made suit.

How many of us are constantly searching for a parking spot.

We are constantly searching.

A friend I was visiting in Israel told me her 19 year old daughter went to Tibet in search for the meaning of life and to find religion.

A Jewish girl left Israel, Israel, to go to Tibet to search for religion.

Everyone is searching for something.

My mentor Fred McCormack was fond of saying the most complex problems often have an answer that is right in front of us.

We, however, like to travel to distant places in both the physical and spiritual in search of an answer.

Tibet for example, when all we need to do is look at our family, our friends, our work, our God.

What are we searching for?

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe a master of words and thought writes in Pathways “Heresy is only an outer plaster on the walls of the heart”.

In this expression Rabbi Wolbe observes that true fulfillment is achieved from within that G-d is within each of us. A supreme example of an answer that lies right in front of our eyes.

In our work in mental health at OHEL we are travel agents for countless people in search.

Mainly people in search of themselves.

The person who lacks self-confidence or the narcissist are both in search of their true inner self.

Those who suffer from depression are searching for a better self.

A wife who is a victim of emotional or worse, physical abuse is often searching for a way out.

Parents struggling with their teen or a couple in conflict who long live in silence are searching for a relationship.

Drugs and alcohol and other addictions are an inner escape from one’s own search.

Simon and Garfunkel described the piercing of silence in 1965.

“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again…

In restless dreams I walk alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone…

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening”

When you walk with family and friends
even with strangers you are not alone.
When you walk the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem you are never alone.

When you are standing at the Western Wall at 5:37am, dawn on Shavous morning with tens of thousands at that moment the piercing silence talks to you as though you are the only person there reveling in the moment having found what you are searching for.

A moment of meditation in tranquility, hope, belief.

Silence at times speaks louder than words.
The search is often within.
You have to hear what you are listening for.

How many parents have admonished their children for not listening by saying, talking to you is like talking to a wall.

Sometimes, your heart talking to a Wall is all you need.

About the Author
David Mandel is CEO of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. For more than 50 years, Ohel has provided a safe haven for those suffering in the community. Ohel cares for more than 17,000 individuals in the New York metropolitan area and across all communities offering a broad range of mental health services including outpatient counseling, trauma, anxiety, eldercare, respite and housing.