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Israel 2024 – May 16: Dalia Epstein

On Thursday, we woke up for our first day in Jerusalem. We drove into the Old City to the egalitarian section of the Kotel for tefillah. I was so excited to see the Kotel for the first time. When we walked into our Tefillah spot it didn’t feel like I was at the Kotel because it wasn’t the main part of the Kotel that you normally see pictures of; instead it’s the back. Even though it wasn’t the same, it was still really special. 

We then explored the archeology of the other walls surrounding the Kotel. While we were exploring the archeology, our tour guide Hillary taught us 1000 years of Jerusalem history in 4 minutes and 26 seconds. She did this because there’s a famous poem by one of Israel’s national poets that talks about how we never see the real, rawest Jerusalem because we continue to build over it. During this, we also learned why we believe the Western Wall  is the one wall that is the most important, even now when it’s been excavated at the southern wall. The Western Wall is considered the holiest because it was closest to the Beit Hamikdash. There were so many things that went into the thoughtful construction of the Beit Hamikdash; even the staircase is uneven to remind us that we need to slow our pace to reach the holy location. 

We walked to the main wall of the Kotel and had some time to ourselves there. It was so meaningful and at the same time very overwhelming. I had never been there before so I had no idea what to expect. 

After, we used VR to travel back in time to the old temple. Then we headed to the Jewish quarter for some delicious lunch. Lunch was worth it, but there were so many stairs going up from the Kotel

Later, walked to Hesekiah’s tunnels and walked through the water tunnels. It was so cool to be able to walk through the tunnels that were built to protect the city’s water from the Asyrians. I had no idea what to expect so when I walked in I was in shock. It was this small tunnel with low ceilings and at the beginning water up to around your hip. I expected the tunnels to open up into a big room but it never did. The water eventually came down to around our ankles as we continued to walk through the tunnels. 

After walking through the tunnels, we met up with the bus and returned to the hotel totally exhausted. We took a quick rest and then went to Shuk Machane Yehuda for some dinner and shopping. 

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