Linda Bass of Temple Beth El visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem
To get a few prized minutes at Judaism’s holiest shrine, Linda Bass, 56, had to stand in line.
The other side of the Western Wall stretched on and on, with many access points for men who wanted to pray.
But the women’s side was small and crowded.
So Linda waited.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is a retaining wall for the Temple Mount, once the site of the Second Jewish Temple. Before the temple’s destruction by the Romans 2,000 years ago, it’s where the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum.
For Jews, that proximity makes the Western Wall the most sacred place on earth.
Like an emissary to the divine, Linda had collected tiny pieces of paper from family and friends – Jewish and non-Jewish – that she was about to push into the wall’s cracks. On each was a personal message to God. Some asked for health, others happiness.
When it was her turn, she reached out to touch the ancient stone, then leaned her head against it.
Feelings of warmth and love washed over her.
She thanked God for getting her there, and for how her life has turned out. She’d had tough times growing up, but found love with husband Ira and their two children.
As she rested her head, Linda also thought about her grandparents. They’d grown up poor in shtetls – Jewish towns – in Poland and Russia, scavenging for food and coal. They got to the United States, where they spent long days sewing in New York’s garment district.
But they, too, had come to the Western Wall.
Tears welled as Linda pictured her fingers and theirs touching the same wall. Then she imagined her own grandchildren – Asher, 4, and Mayer, 1 – someday making their own pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She prayed that they would come here, too, to rest their heads and hands on this holy stone.
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