First visit to the Kotel

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wall1

Today marked the minor fast day the 17th of Tammuz. I went with Yischa to the Kotel – the Western or Wailing Wall. We took a leisurely walk through the new (since I was last here four years ago) Mamilla Mall. For a moment we both thought we were in LA rather than Jerusalem. I was thrilled to see that there is now a MAC (the only brand of make-up I wear) store here in Jerusalem so, Baruch Ha-Shem (Thank God) I can know make Aliyah (move to Israel).

MAC

Apparently you can get anything you might need at this mall as they appear to have the Ark of the Covenant for sale as well.

ark in mamilla

We then entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gates and decided to walk through the Arab Shuk. There was not a lot of selling going on. We then stopped and visited the rebuilt Ramban Synagogue. The interior and the exterior are both beautiful.

ramban shul1

There was a bit of a traffic jam caused by a group of Orthodox boys watching workmen drill a huge hole through the stone wall of a storefront. They were totally fascinated by the large drill and the workmen’s frustration when it got stuck and they had to bang it out from the other side. It made for good picture taking.

drill and boys1drill and boys2

The Kotel plaza was fairly busy since it was towards the end of the fast. Yischa knew about a “secret” place for us to go daven (pray) that is inside the walls rather than along the front of them. We asked to be allowed in through the entrance of the “Western Wall Heritage Foundation” and walked through the tunnels to an area where women can daven. Of course, there was an area in front and below where the men were davening and could touch the wall. The sound of the men’s davening was a bit hypnotic and made for a great background for my own prayers. As the 17th of Tammuz marks, among other tragedies, the day that the walls of the Temple were breached by the Romans, davening from within those walls was quite powerful.

haredim1

We returned to the city on a bus on which we were instructed, by a kid with a megaphone sitting in the bus stop area, that women were to sit in the back of the bus. Most of the people getting on the bus were Ultra-Orthodox. I said to Yischa, “Didn’t the Israeli Supreme Court decide that they couldn’t make you do this?” I also said “Who am, Rosa Parks?” Yischa laughed and said that she had expected I might bristle at being sent to the back. I did notice a few women, Orthodox even, did sit toward the front.

We broke our fast at a lovely restaurant on Emek Refa’im where I ordered the Salad Nicioise (no idea how to spell that and spell check isn’t helping!). I had seen in the description that rather than regular tuna (from a can) that they served it with a seared tuna fillet. This sounded delightful. When I ordered it the waitress said, “Have you had this before?” “Yes.” “Have you had it here?” “No.” She then went on to explain and, it seemed, apologize for the fact that rather than serving it with canned tuna they used a lovely tuna steak that was served medium rare. I told her that was perfect. I laughed at the fact that people would be upset to get fabulous tuna steak properly cooked rather than Chicken of the Sea!

In other news, I had my first orientation meeting at Pardes today and met with my assigned mentor – Evan. It is a perfect match! He loved the piece of curriculum which I brought to work on during the workshop. He loved the creativity of it and was also really jazzed about the idea for framing all of middle school Judaics that Rabbi Light and I had been working on creating. I showed him pictures of the bulletin board I made in my room and he was just thrilled with it. Very excited to have him as a sounding board – even if he promised to be demanding and difficult – for my unit.

Off to bed as tomorrow is a long day and I didn’t sleep well last night – mostly because apparently my neighbor couldn’t sleep either and kept making noise that woke me up! So, I guess I really hope that he sleeps more soundly so that I can!

B’vrachot – with blessings,

Nance

About nancesea

I live in Seattle with my husband Steve. I work as a Jewish educator, primarily teaching middle schoolers. My hobbies, when I have time, are reading, writing, music, and photography. I am passionate about teaching the lessons of the darkest periods history to help inspire my students to assure our future is brighter. I am a Museum Teacher Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Memorial. I travel yearly to Central and Eastern Europe to continue to learn about this history and make connections with educators there doing similar work. I hope you enjoy my writing on my travels, my learning and Jewish thought and practice. B'vrachot - with blessings - Nance

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