Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today It's All About The Wall

Where were you 50 years ago today? Perhaps you weren't born yet or were too young to remember. But if you were old enough to understand anything much, you probably have some recollection...

Avraham Schechter remembers.
He was one of the first chayalim (Israeli soldiers) to enter the Old City of Jerusalem after its liberation. In a recent telephone interview, Avraham - now 70 years old - passionately described his emotions as he stood at The Wall that very first time. The Wall which he had only heard about from his father and older brother (who were able to go there before it was taken from us in 1948). The Wall which he had longed to experience for himself. Avraham vividly remembers - and will never forget - the magic of that moment.

I remember.
I was nine years old as I sat in the auditorium of my elementary school with my fellow fourth graders as our principal explained what would soon become known for all time as the Six Day War. He led us in prayer for the safety of our brethren in Israel. I couldn't quite grasp the details of what was going on but I thought about my aunt, uncle and cousins who lived there. And I knew this was big. Really big. When I Remember Jerusalem, that memory is my very first.

At age 18, I took my first trip to Israel - and to The Wall. I prepared myself in advance to feel nothing so as not to be disappointed. After all, could a pile of stones really have such an emotional impact on me? Oh, how I shocked myself, completely spellbound as I was by the sheer awe of the place; feeling connected to every Jew who had ever stood there, to every Jew who could only dream of doing so, to every Jew who gave his life so that I could stand there that day. I vividly remember - and will never forget - the magic of that moment.

In 1979, my parents and brothers visited Israel for the first time in honor of my brother's bar mitzvah. I was so happy to share My Wall with them. I would visit Israel several more times before marrying and getting busy starting a family of my own. And suddenly, it now seems, I was back at My Wall - this time, with my husband and five young children,

all of us brand new citizens of the State and proud Toshavei Yerushalayim - "permanent residents" of the holy City.

Despite my current geographical distance, my love of the Land, the City and The Wall continues to grow since that earliest memory 50 years ago. And my gratitude to the Almighty for granting us the gift that we celebrate today continues to deepen.

Now the torch is being passed as I watch my married couples take their places at The Wall.

My Wall. Their Wall. Everyone's Wall.

There are a gazillion videos to watch (click here for starters) and events to attend on this 28th day of Iyar, Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). For my part, I will meet a friend for coffee this afternoon -
a friend who is visiting from her home in the Old City of Jerusalem.
And tonight I will take my little flag off my mailbox and bring it with me when I go dance with some of my amazing JWRP sisters who joined me on my last visit to Our Wall. It will be my personal "next best thing to being there".

Happy Yom Yerushalayim to you!
Mazal Tov on a half-century of reunifying, rebuilding and rejoicing in the miracle we witnessed 50 years ago today. May we all soon merit the ultimate redemption, rebuilding and rejoicing - and the reunion of the Jewish Nation coming Home from every corner of the globe. Home to stay.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

WhatsHappY Purim To You!

It has become increasingly challenging to blog about Jerusalem when I haven't been there recently enough to collect new material to share. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but my best laid plans were overridden by His. Which, of course, makes it all the more necessary for me to Remember Jerusalem - somehow.

Enter WhatsApp! As far away as I may physically be, I am grateful for the technology that zaps me Home instantly.

Messages and photos from friends in Israel warm my heart.
Words of
Torah from some of Israel's finest teachers stir my soul.

Videos and graphics make me cry, smile...and, yes, LOL.

I couldn't be in my beloved Land of Po for Chanuka but the lights of the holy Land brightened all eight nights...via WhatsApp!
When we were looking for a place to stay for the February trip that didn't happen, "Claudia" WhatsApped photos
of her beautiful Har Nof rental - and the breathtaking view from her window.

Although I couldn't reach out and touch a sh'keydiah porachat
(blossoming almond tree) on Tu b'Shevat this year, a dear friend surprised me with a virtual one - WhatsApped, of course.

And on Rosh Chodesh Adar, the first day of the happiest month on the Jewish calendar, I awoke to a WhatsHappY greeting from Israel,
where their month had begun seven hours earlier than mine. WhatsApp continued to gladden me with pre-Purim cheer - like this delightful WhatsHappY flash mob straight from the streets of Jerusalem. (If clicking on the words doesn't work, type into your browser.)

WhatsApp is arguably "the next best thing to being there" (for those of you old enough to remember that ad for long-distance phone calls). So join the fun! Send me your number and I'll WhatsHappILY send you my personal wishes for a very
WhatsHappY Purim wherever you are. Looking forward to receiving yours in return!

P.S. If you've been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I changed the wording on the header, replacing the verse "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem..." (Psalms 122:6), with King David's instruction (paraphrased) to "...Remember Jerusalem above my greatest joy" (Psalms 137:6). On Erev Shabbat, December 30, the sixth day of Chanuka, Rosh Chodesh Teves, we remembered Jerusalem above the immense joy of welcoming our first grandchild into the world.

Her name, Tehilla (which means praise), is mentioned many times in Sefer Tehillim - that very same aforementioned Book of Psalms from which I have quoted so often in these blog posts and which I carry with me - literally and figuratively - always.
The name is most fitting for our praise and gratitude to the Almighty for this blessed addition to our lives. Tehilla lives about 220 miles away so our first glimpse of her guessed it - on WhatsApp! The ongoing WhatsApping of photos and videos enables us to watch her grow on a daily basis. Definitely the next best thing to being there. May Tehilla Riva (middle-named for her maternal grandmother) bring true nachas (Jewish pride and joy) to her parents (Yoel and Yael), grandparents, extended family and all Am Yisrael.

Shabbat Shalom and A Very WhatsHappY Purim
from our house
to yours.