Working in the Old City comes with definite perks. Minchah at the Kosel is one of them. And because the Kosel is the spiritual magnet for Jews (and non-Jews) from all over the world, I’m always meeting interesting people.
One crisp morning I was walking in the Old City near Jaffa Gate, when a little kvetch caught my ear: “Maaa, when are we going to get to the Wailing Wall already? I’m tiiired.”
Having three little kids of my own, I know what it’s like to start out on a trip, all gung-ho, and two minutes later be thinking, Am I beyond crazy? Why did I do this?
A few steps later, an older lady saw me walking with the confidence of someone who knows where she is going, so in perfect Hebrew she asked me if she could follow me to the Kosel. Something didn’t add up. Most people who speak fluent Hebrew don’t need directions to the Kosel.
“Sure,” I said, introducing myself.
The older lady — Sharon — called out to the group I’d just passed. “Kids, we’re following this lady now.”
Hmmm. Pretty good English.
Sharon told me that she was born in Jerusalem, but when she married, she and her husband moved to Las Vegas.
“You know, I brought up my kids knowing they were Jewish, and I always told my girls, you marry Jewish, you hear.” Her two daughters — ah, the women walking behind us, with the whining kids.
“But it’s a different story with my grandchildren,” she told me with a deep sigh, one laced with pain. “If my daughters don’t take their Judaism too seriously, then how can I expect my grandchildren to know where they come from?”
I nodded, listening intently.
Sharon continued. “You know, we lived in Las Vegas for 40 years without coming back once. But now we’re here, we brought the kids and grandkids with us, just so we can connect.”
We started walking down the stairs from the Jewish Quarter down to the Kosel, and I noticed that Sharon was a little shaky. Maybe the walk was too much for? I pointed to bench at the side and suggested that we sit down and rest for a few minutes.
She brushed me off. “No, I’m fine.”
After another few seconds, the Kosel came into view.
When she saw it, Sharon gasped. Then she sank down on the stairs and started weeping.
Her daughters came running over to see what was wrong.
Through her tears, she shook her head — there was nothing wrong. “I’m home,” she said. “I’m finally home!”
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 611)