One hand contains a note
The other clutches my mother’s wrist
If I let go, she will disappear
I will be swallowed by the crowd of long-skirted women
With embroidered hair coverings and shawls of every pattern and color that seem to flow over their shoulders
Reminiscent of childhood, of bubbe and a distant cousin’s bar mitzvah and the hole-in-the-wall shop in Queens where I picked out my very first Shabbos dress
With a reassuring squeeze from my mother’s hand, I weave my way through the crowd
The crowd that has taken on a life of its own, teeming with passion and fervent prayer
Looking up, I am dwarfed by the massive wall of stones
Not quite beige, almost gold
Crammed in each crevice are a myriad of papers
A spectrum of colors, each one a symbol of hope
I worm my way past the woman praying with her teenage daughter
Past the 20-something-year-old in black with her face pressed against the wall, her cries permeate my ears
Finally, I squeeze my way through
I run my hands over the ancient stones
Worn smooth from centuries of prayer
Generations have formed me
And I will form generations
Uplifted by prayer,
Weathering the ever-raging storm of hatred and violence
That comes with our identity.
And yet, we stand strong
Our faith unwavering as the collection of notes,
The collection of hopes and dreams and visions for the future,
Between two stones, the tiniest fissure beckons to me
I tuck my note inside, joining those of my predecessors
Aspirations in the wrinkled papers surrounding my freshly folded square,
Aspirations fulfilled by my presence at this holy landmark,
A sign of the enduring persistence of our people.
I open my siddur
And begin to pray.
Join the conversation!