Written by GIVEr: Tzivia Appleman
Monday, July 13. It was meant to be one of the most important days of my life- the day we go to the Kotel. For me and many girls on this trip, we have been waiting for this day our entire lives, as it is our first time in Israel. Going to the Kotel was all I could think about the entire day. I was feeling every emotion possible- happy, scared, nervous, excited. On the bus ride to the Kotel, tears of happiness were welling up in my eyes. When Erin got up to make an announcement, my heart started beating very fast, knowing that we were about to hear the instructions for getting off the bus. I couldn’t wait any longer.
My heart dropped when the announcement was the exact opposite of what I expected it to be. Because of the high security around the Kotel due to Ramadan, we were unfortunately not able to go to the Kotel that night. My tears of happiness quickly turned bitter. The moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life was taken away from me so quickly. Why?
These unusual circumstances must mean that this happened for a reason. These past two days, I’ve been trying use every new experience as a way to enhance my Kotel experience. Maybe our journey to the Kotel was delayed so that we could first go to the Nefesh B’Nefesh flight and gain a stronger sense of nationhood. Maybe it was so we could go to the Blind Museum and truly appreciate the fact that we would be able to physically see the Kotel. Maybe it was so we could go to the army base and meet our future husbands. Whatever the reason was, I know this for sure- That original bus ride to the Kotel was necessary for me to genuinely reflect on myself, and the moment that was about to happen, even though it didn’t happen that night.
But that Kotel moment- that experience- happened last night.
A thousand thoughts and memories were rushing through my brain. This is the wall where the holiest temple stood, where my parents had their first date, where generations of Jews before me have cried out their Teffilot.
Eyes still closed. I start to cry.
As I’m passing through, I hear two women talking in Hebrew. One of them sounded worried that I was crying, but the other woman reassured her- ״לא. היא בשמחה. ״ No. She is happy. Happiness is an understatement. 15 years I’ve been waiting for this moment. 15 years I haven’t felt that connection to Israel, and my Judaism and connection to God have suffered as well. This was it.
I open my eyes.
There are no words to describe the feeling of bliss as my Father greeted me. Touching the Kotel for the first time felt like holding God’s hand.
And now, I’m home.