Standing on a balcony in the Old City of Jerusalem while watching the sun rise over the thousands of people at the Kotel (Western Wall) for Shavuot, I breathe in the rich history, tradition and culture of our people. I see commitment to continuing it, connections amongst those who came here together and a love for Jewish peoplehood.
As my daughter and I make our way to the wall, we must move amongst and between thousands of Jewish women from all over the world. Some so pious and committed to their prayer that they don’t even notice those around them, others on a quest to move forward to touch the wall or to place a note in one its crevices, asking Hashem to answer a prayer. We hear languages from the four corners of the world, see people who look familiar but can’t place and feel an incredible sense of community. After all, we are all Jewish women meeting at our religion’s holiest site.
We then moved onto Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section of the Kotel. We joined my husband where the three of us prayed together and shared incredibly beautiful and intimate family bonding, while joining thousands of other Jewish people from across the globe acknowledging the Torah as a central component of Judaism.
As you are enjoying your vacations, please consider a family trip. Precious moments create meaningful memories. When you take time to incorporate and model those values you hold dear, you build tradition. If you can afford to visit Israel, I recommend you do so. Every day is precious, every experience meaningful, and the effects of your acknowledging and incorporating Judaism, will build identity and ground your children for many years to come.
Nesiah Tovah (happy and safe travels)!
Sue Penn is the mother of three, Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, president of Jewish Reconstructionist Educators of North America and a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly.