Oh Israel, you did it again. You stole my heart and left a piece of it there forever. My first foray into this unknown land was with Taglit Birthright, a privilege I was awarded due to a Jewish heritage on my father’s side. This trip showed me a culture and a land that I would likely never have known without it and left me wanting more. I knew I would come back again and plan to many more times, each time discovering new experiences that shake my core and take my breathe away.
On Taglit, I was the only non-Jewish individual and for this reason, the others plotted and prayed for me to feel a connection to a homeland and faith that my family has very strong ties to.
Alas, I had my moment of connection to Israel and my heritage towards the end of Taglit. We walked through Rabin Square and stood where former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in 1995. From here we made our way to the world wonder, the Western Wall or Wailing Wall as it is also known. What significance can a wall hold I wondered? It’s not even part of the original Holy Temple, but rather the last standing piece of the retaining wall that has been and may always be contested over by the various religious sects in Israel.
I wrote my prayer on a small piece of paper and walked up to the wall. I had to wait… and wait… and wait until I could get some space to approach the wall. I thought I would place my note in a crack and let the next person come up to the wall and say a prayer.
It hit me like a lightning bolt, a feeling I only hope to ever experience in a spiritual sense. I fell to my knees and I sobbed. I sobbed for my heritage, for my history and for the connection that came through me like all of the souls that had ever touched or longed to touch this wall. I felt their tears, their prayers and their pain. I finally felt my connection to Israel. This to date, was the most profound moment and feeling I had ever experienced. Whether the Western Wall has significance to you or not, I can’t imagine anyone visiting it and not feeling something!