Friday, September 9, 2011

Wailing Wall

A lot of stuff happens everyday, but in order to try to keep everyone up to date with most things, I'm probably just gonna talk about the coolest things that happen each day. This is basically what I've already been doing, but I'm going to really stick to it in the future. Like today, we did a lot of different things and had class, but the focal point of the day was really the Western Wall, so that's what the post is going to be about. (Thank you for indulging me with allowing me to try to talk myself into writing less so it doesn't take so long to do updates...)

The Western Wall is amazing. As one of the last remnants of the wall surrounding the temple of Jerusalem, this segment of wall is one of the most holy places for many Jews across the world. It truly has an undeniable spirit about it. It's amazing to see how the people love the wall and what it represents, and to see all of the notes and prayers that have been pressed into the crevices of the stone, along with all of the notes that have fallen to the ground. It is split into sections for each gender, according to the custom of a traditional synagogue, so I was with all the women who were worshipping and welcoming the Sabbath. When we first arrived at the wall, it was a still, calm atmosphere. It wasn't quite crowded, but there were a number of people there. It wasn't loud, but there was a faint murmur as people recited prayers and visited with each other. It wasn't  clique-y or exclusively Jewish, but it had a strong sense of tradition and importance. I loved it. As the evening progressed, the celebration and sense of joy became more and more pronounced. I don't fully understand the traditions and everything, but the Sabbath (starting at sundown on Friday) is greatly anticipated in Jewish culture, and it is something to be celebrated and welcomed, almost like the coming of a bridegroom at a wedding. So, they sing and dance and clap and celebrate! It's fantastic how much energy and life is there. Granted, it seemed like some of the more orthodox and conservative women opted out of the dancing, but it was fun nonetheless. The orthodox men certainly didn't opt out of the fun! There is a barrier about 5 feet tall between the genders, but suddenly during a particularly rousing song that started up, we saw all these men being lifted up on people's hands a shoulders! It was Jewish crowd surfing! The best part was when we spotted some of the boys from our group being lifted up among all the Jewish men. They made me proud. It was also really fun because there was a group of girls from a Hebrew school that were about high school age. Their teachers had them all singing and dancing, and they invited us to join, so it was really fun to be part of the celebration. Unfortunately we had to leave at about 7:30, but it was such a cultural evening. I don't yet know a whole lot about the Jewish people (that's why I'm in a class and I'm learning), but one thing I really admire about them is their loyalty to traditions and their dedication to their religion. Even the super fashionable girls from the school were singing every line of the songs and dancing every dance- no one was "too cool" to be Jewish. I think that a lot of times people get too nervous to be religious, and they think that it's not the "cool" thing to do, so they give up parts or all of their religion, its customs, or its standards. Well here's the thing, if these beautiful, fashionable, and teenage girls can be separated from boys, sing in Hebrew, dance around, and spend their Friday night in front of a wall, I think we can all be a little better at living our religion and beliefs. Cause when people are Jewish, they are JEWISH. Can we each say the same about our faiths? Just something to think about.

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