Category Archives: Old City/Western Wall news

A word from above the bomb shelter

Shalom Western Wall Family,

I originally created this blog as a way to spread light from the holy land, and especially from the holiest place in the holy land to surrounding areas.
Then my husband’s tragedy occurred and that became the platform for the blog. But now, as day 5 of the war is in progress, I keep thinking I need to say something. After all, the blog is to apprise everyone of the situation. But as day after day happens, I keep wondering, ‘what am I going to say?’. I want to spread emuna and uplifting thoughts. But truly, the reality of our home is very different and very sobering. So I decided to spread reality – which is really emuna anyway.

3 days ago we heard our first sirens in Jerusalem – very unexpectedly. A rocket was coming. 3 kids were up and 2 were sleeping. In a flash, I had to make a judgment call whether I felt the threat was bad enough to wake up the 2 sleeping kids and whether to make the dash to find the bomb shelter keys and then to the bomb shelter. The only thing worse than having to take care of your kids and taking responsibility for them in this situation, is doing it without a husband to make you feel safe and confident and to take care of you when it is all over.

In the end we decided to huddle under the stairs, say tehillim and hug. That continued for more than an hour later until everyone packed blankets and mattresses around my bed and slept together. They were scared – terrified really.

Let me explain. 2 years ago we had 2 days of sirens during the last war. I told stories to my kids and we sang songs in the bomb shelters and made everything pink and pretty. Was pretty much a breeze as far as rocket scares go.
This year there is no more picture-painting of bubble-gum parties and picnic nights and everything’s going to be alright. Reality use to be never a care in the world or fear in the mind – Hashem would always protect and save – no problem. This year, the kids know better and the picture I paint has to be more real and mature – don’t worry kids, exactly what is supposed to happen will happen – and that’s always for the best. Does that mean no one is ever going to get hurt or die? Now they know that is not true – but it is also ok. My emuna lessons to them are different now. More reality-based.

As they asked question after question, we talked about whether we are doing the right thing. Are we doing our hishtadlus? Well, we are saying tehillim and it is probably turning those rockets away from packed areas. We are going to a safe place. That’s all we can ask for. If it is not our mazel to go now, then no rocket in the world can touch us, as long as we are not putting ourselves in danger’s way. And if it is our mazel to go, then there is nowhere we can run. When it’s time, it’s time. What is right will happen.

Now of course, they are kids – so I reminded them that they have 2 Abas now in Shemayim watching over them.

Someone said to me today ‘I wonder what Hashem is trying to tell us’. I found it kind of funny, because I feel like Hashem is very repetitive in many ways ‘just to do teshuva -that’s always what He’s saying’, I retorted. My kids and I decided to tell Hashem that our hishtadlus now will be to try to be better in our ‘Ve’ahavta Le’Orecha Kamocha’.

The army responds with fighting, the politicians respond with decisions and discussions. If we are neither, then we obviously respond with something else. I find it pointless to discuss how we think the war or the country should be run. Is anyone actually listening to us when we say this? If I am not Netanyahu, so who cares what I think? Why waste energy speaking about what I think will solve the situation militarily or politically. If I want to do something, then I reserve myself to an area where I actually have control. Hashem listens to my teshuva, to my tefila (prayers) and to my improved actions. He also listens to yours and responds in kind. Where we have control and influence – we should act. Where we don’t – we are not actually doing anything.

Almost 600 rockets have been launched – unprecedented not to have a casualty in such a situation. Thank you Hashem!
Even one of the Hamas leaders, after being asked how it could be that he hasn’t been able to kill an Israeli yet, said ‘What can I do if Allah makes miracles for them? But the minute Allah gets angry with them, wait and see what will happen!”. Thanks for the reminder Hamas – we will make sure to continue to make Hashem proud while you pound us.

Please take a moment and pick one extra thing to do to merit Hashem’s protection – after all, this ridiculous war is just for our spiritual growth anyway! Not just for us under fire, but for everyone at home as well!

Just a note – remember the 2nd antifada? Dozens of bus bombings never-ending. Letter-writing campaigns, protests, angry Presidents – nothing worked to stop it. Then the #2 bus from the Kotel blew up. We all heard it. The Rabbis got together and realized that there must be something spiritually dangerous about buses that causes them to be so vulnerable to attacks. They decided to make kosher buses – segregating men and women. Guess what happened? No more bus bombings.
I feel the antifada mentality back amongst the Arabs on the street. The unrest is brewing. That makes me more concerned than any rockets. Thoughts?

With love from Jerusalem,

Batya

Thousands gather to pray for recovery of HaRav Chaim Ovadia Yosef

Tens of thousands of people were crowded at the Kotel Sunday night in an organized prayer session for Rav Chaim Ovadia Yosef, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time (especially prominent in the Sefardic community) who is hospitalized in serious condition. Reports estimated there were 30,000 people present! Many great leaders came to join in the prayers, and the heart-rending wails and cries of those praying could be heard throughout the Kotel plaza. Here is a picture of the men’s side (as originally posted on Yeshiva World News).
tefilosRYosef

Erev Yom Kippur at the Kotel

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This picture was taken at 11:00pm at the Kotel on Erev Yom Kippur. It was standing room only. The policeman actually told me I had to get up from the side of the stairs; I wasn’t allowed to sit there because it would cause a traffic jam eventually. It’s apparently become the “in” thing in Israel to come to the Kotel for the Selichos (special penitential prayers) that take place during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s unbelievable. It looked like people were actually throwing on a scarf and a skirt and coming straight from the beach in Tel Aviv to come to the Kotel. It was awe-inspiring that people from all faiths – every Tom, Dudu and Dovid was there. It’s an amazing pull that the Kotel has and it’s getting stronger and stronger.

I’ve noticed that people are in exceptionally good moods around Israel. People are very helpful, very kind. Everyone has been giving brachot (blessings) to each other – religious or not-religious. We’re all really one big family. Am Yisroel is one. When we hurt each other we’re really hurting ourselves; we’re one body. You hit another person, you’re really hitting yourself – spiritually.
I think people are feeling this a little bit more and more, and they’re feeling the pull of the light of the Kotel. It’s our source.

You can see in this one picture. 2birdsI don’t know if it’s close enough, but there are two white birds nestled into the crevices of one of the rocks of the Kotel – one looking left, the other looking right. It almost reminds me of the two cherubim that were on top of the Ark. They’re there every night – just like that; they don’t move. It gives me comfort to see them.

Wherever you are, you should have a Gmar Tov. You should be signed and sealed for a good and healthy new year and we all should feel the pleasure and the light emanating from this amazing place. We’re there with you whenever you need.

Hour Long Psalm Prayer Session Today for Peace in Israel!

churva
Just an hour after this picture was taken at noon this afternoon, the Churva was filled to the brim with yeshiva boys and neighbourhood residents all called together to recite tehillim for more than an hour, in lieu of the potential strike by Syria and our enemies.

On the other side of the city, hundreds stood in line for hours, unsuccessfully trying to get their gas masks just as a precaution in the event of a strike.

Meanwhile, all was quiet and serene at the Kotel (Western Wall). kotel

People are always in a good mood and easily taken into a talk about spirituality here.

The month of Elul is in the air. We jump from shiur (Torah class) to shiur, each with another idea about what is the best thing to try and fix in our middos (character traits) and avodas Hashem (divine service) in the last few days we have left until judgment day (Rosh Hashanah).

I sat at the Kotel this morning and in business-like fashion, wrote out a list of all the possible things I could have done wrong this year, and all of the possible people I could have wronged this year. As I spoke aloud what I did and that I was truly sorry for it and never wanted to do it again, I crossed it off and went to the next, making sure to feel that it impacted my heart. I then went home and wrote a very difficult apology letter to a person I knew was upset at me (even though I quite honestly felt that I was the one who should be getting an apology). My hishtadlus (physical efforts in this spiritual world) was to get into her head-space and justify her, even if I technically did not have to.

When my kids got nervous today after their prayer session, I said they could take comfort in doing one thing to make shalom (peace) between them and each other in our home, so the Holy One will emulate us and make peace with our enemies.

I implore each one of you who reads this to do the same. Do one act to make peace with another person who feels either that you have wronged them, or forgive someone who you feel has wronged you. Even if you are right. Do it for the sake of the peace of the world. Making peace is greater than doing teshuva. Maybe it will be in your merit.

With blessings from Jerusalem,
Batya

Kotel Light Show

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Here is the promised pic. Picture opera music and flashing lights changing colors from one moment to the next just under the Mt. of Olives.

At the Kotel itself, all was untouched, but above and beyond, there were a few good light tricks to see. I didn’t have my camera with me then, but there were projected spiders crawling on cob-webs around Jaffa gate. The Cardo ceiling was filled with light mosaics and I heard they were playing some movies in Zilberman’s square, commonly known as the Old Square. Most importantly there were lots of portable lights for sale, popcorn, cotton candy and Chassidic men with guitars singing about… G-d and coming close of course.

Mayor Nir Barkat brought the Formula One race to Jerusalem for the first time ever. The race cars ran the track on the other side of the walls of the old city (by Sha’ar Jaffa). There was one day (last Thursday) when the light show and the formula one race overlapped. Neighbourhood kids tried to hide in their homes to avoid trampling :-).  But seriously, it was not as bad as expected. Of course no Old City kids could actually get to school by bus, or catch sight of the cars without waiting for 3 hours. So we all viewed it as a kind of snowed in day.

ALIENS FLY OVER THE OLD CITY

KotelLightShow

The annual light show is visiting the Old City again. Thousands of tourists are crowding the streets looking for colorful light displays, and a bit of sci-fi meets the ancient life. These creative light flying dolphins are hovering over Jaffa gate, just outside the Old City. I was impressed! We hope it will inspire some people to make it to the Kotel to pray, when they otherwise would not have. An opera music and light projection show is happening at the Southern Gate of the Wall. I will try to get you a video or picture. :-) :-)

Batya