Yom Yerushalayim/Jerusalem Day and Shavuot Night are two days when thousands of people from all over Israel flock to the Old City of Jerusalem and join together in prayer at the Kotel. For those who cannot make it for the holidays, I will take you on a spiritual tour of my experience at the Kotel, the retaining wall of the Great Temple which the Divine Presence never left, so you too can join in the celebration.
My friend said to meet him at the Kotel. He said he was wearing a black Yarmulke.
I did not find my friend.
The Kotel was very crowded and I got yelled at. I found out later, the guy screaming at me was inviting me to join him in prayer. He was screaming ‘Mincha’ (the afternoon prayer). I ended up doing the afternoon prayer eight times that day. It wasn’t out of fear of God. The guy scared me.
The Kol HaOlam Kulo Circle at the Kotel
A bunch of people singing the famed Jewish song ‘the whole world is a very narrow bridge…and the main thing being not to fear.’ They started to sing this song right after they finished their afternoon prayers. Apparently, they too were frightened by the mincha guys yelling at them.
The Wall in the Back of the Prayer Section
That was built to keep the creepy people away. You can see them all peaking over. A bunch of Peeping Toms. We know you are there. Sickos.
Notes in The Wall
This tradition probably began back in the days when most people did not have access to Israel. Recycling was not an option at the time, and littering was illegal. So people had their friends bring their papers to the Kotel. This gave a sense of connectedness, knowing that their clutter made its way to Israel as well.
Sticking notes in the Wall can become addictive. I knew I had to stop bringing notes to the Kotel when I found myself caulking my bathtub with little bits of paper.
Papers on the Floor
Many people have a tradition of writing notes and then discarding them at the Kotel. Some people have a tradition of sticking the notes in the Wall. Other people have a tradition of not cleaning up.
Disturbed by the lack of cleanliness, I picked up a few of them and read them. Apparently, a lot of people want health. There were some who want the strength to do good. Others want a female Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doll. Each and every one of those notes touched my heart, as I learned we are all connected in prayer. I was especially moved by Michael from Toronto. We are with you buddy. One of your teams might win a championship someday.
Kotel Bar Mitzvah
You can see a bunch of men standing over the kid, waiting for the moment where they can tell him that he did something wrong. You can see the men, intent and ready, as they wait to berate the child.
Bar Mitzvahs are a Jewish ritual where we reprimand a 13-year-old in public, for making mistakes while reading the Torah. It’s beautiful.
In recent history, parents have made it a practice to bring the child to the Kotel to celebrate this coming of age, the acceptance of Mitzvot and older people telling you what to do. The additional people found at the Kotel allows for a more nationalistic feeling of collective abuse.
After he is finished reading, they whipped candies at him. As I learned, this is mainly done at the Kotel on Mondays and Thursdays, when the Torah is read. Shabbat is another good time to whip candies at children. By the time they got to pelting this young man, another 50 people were there to join in the public candying flogging ritual.
Paper Kippahs: Origami Yamis
This man is making kippahs with the art of Jewish origami. What makes Jewish origami different is that we use staples. You can also use the Jewish origami tradition to decorate your sukkah with paper chains. You origami it with staples and your chain is made twice as fast. Brilliant!. I am surprised the people of the Far East never figured this out.
What it Looks Like When you Wear a Paper Yarmulke
This kind of kippah is what keeps non-religious people away from religion. I don’t even think that this upside down nacho tray is connected to the right side of my head.
If you are lucky enough to find a cloth kippah at the Kotel, take one. Nobody will notice. The security guard is too focused on the origami yamis.
That Man Without the Blanket
The Temple was known as a house of prayer for all nations, but this guy is taking it too far.
Even if he is protesting the lack of subsidized housing, this is just plain wrong...On the other hand, I was impressed by this man’s sense of calm as no matter how hard they tried, he didn’t let the afternoon prayer guys get to him.