Nely Trip to Israel 5/6/2010 Day 1 & 2

This is the first day post jet lag on our Israel Journey.

We are a diverse group of Latinos, Koreans and African Americans from the US, happily invited by the Jewish Federation and the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles.

Most of the Latinos have been friends or acquaintances for many years and we have been brought together randomly by way of our community leadership on this trip. We have the incredible opportunity to get to know and understand Israel authentically and to get to know each other in perhaps a way we have never had the chance to do..

Last evening, after our 15 hour plane ride, we had the privilege of experiencing the Jewish tradition of Shabbat at the Western Wall. There were Israeli soldiers and citizens, as well as people from all over the world. It was a very interesting experiencing the rituals of the wall. We were separated by sex, Men and Women in separate parts of the wall. This was a very odd experience for Americanized empowered women.

We washed our hands in the fountains three times before entering the wall ( to cleanse everything that has come before) In order to appropriately approach the sacred space.

The powerful feelings the women felt were overwhelming. We found ourselves sobbing at the inexplicable presence and energy we found ourselves in. It was almost too much to take in at once. It is as if we were engulfed in a tidal wave of a shared consciousness of grief, hope and dreams that has been alive here for centuries. We placed our little notes with our intentions and wishes in the niches in the rough ancient wall. It was a magical experience.

We walked away from the wall backwards never giving it our back as one would do in the presence of royalty, as we learned is the custom.

We then had a walk through the old city, on the way to our Shabbat dinner on the roof of Beit Shmuel were we met Rabbi Hal who gave us a special blessing and welcome.

Beneath the stars, with a beautiful view of the old city, we all felt so grateful for the magic we had already experienced on the first day and for all the knowledge to come. We can’t wait.

Shabbat, Shalom,
Nely Galan