In a city with a population of 800.000 and 3,5 million tourist annually, you simply don’t expect empty streets. Yet that’s what you find after 3pm on Friday. Stores and restaurants close, trains and buses are nowhere to be found and there are only few people left walking around. It is Shabbat, the day of rest. I’ve been told that it’s more than just the absence of work. It’s a day of ‘re-creation’, where someone finds himself again in the peace and quiet, in meditation and prayer, in quality time with relatives. What a beautiful thought, to start each week like you’re born anew.
Sunset on Friday marks the start of the Shabbat, which is greatly celebrated by Orthodox Jews. So around 4 o’clock, we headed to the Western Wall to be a part of this. The area was filling up quickly. I noticed every Jew was dressed in their best outfit, with furry hats, nice dresses or shinier, black coats.
I covered my head and walked to the women-side of this sacred place. This is the only part of the Second Temple (the Temple of Herod) that is still standing. I don’t believe in holy places or objects, because I believe Jesus made everything equally holy when the veil was torn and His sacrifice gave us full access to His Presence. Yet, I so strongly experienced the Presence of God in this place. Overwhelmed by His majesty and completely in awe of Him, I leaned my head against this ancient wall and prayed, wept, worshiped, sang and surrendered my life to my King again. What a beautiful, sacred moment.
After my own time of prayer, I watched others do the same. I stood in front of the fence for almost an hour, observing the large crowd of Jews at the wall of their temple.
They prayed – rocking back and forth.
They sang – loud and together.
They read – from a book in a language I wish I could understand.
They taught – and everybody sat down to listen to the spontaneously assigned teacher. They danced – in big circles around and around.
They worshiped – with their eyes looking up to heaven.
They laughed and they celebrated – because this was the Shabbat.
And I watched, trying to hold back my tears. What a privilege to be here.
– This post is part of the DDIsrael16-series, with travel stories and pictures of my daddy-daughter trip to Israel. You can find all other posts here, you can find some other pictures on Instagram.
Tonight I will write a blog post about the ‘unexpected travel adventures’, like getting stuck in the dessert with car trouble. –