The Western Wall & Shabbat in Jerusalem
I had seen many images and movies showing scenes of people gathered, praying in front of this wall and not really knowing or understanding it. Our guide explained that the wall was built to stop the Jewish people praying inside the Temple Mount, a place which was very sacred for Jewish people, but had been occupied by Muslim people as it was also holy place for them. A simplistic explanation for what seems to be a complicated situation.
During our walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, we visited the site of the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing” Wall; where people were not only praying but also placing little messages to deceased loved ones. I also noticed the women were separated from the men by a high partition.
As the Jewish Sabbath was approaching, beginning at sunset on Friday, we decided to come back on the eve of Shabbat, as we were told there would be large gathering to welcome it in. This is called “Kabbalat Shabbalat”. We saw men in all forms of religious dress, all rushing to the water fountain to wash their hands before heading towards the wall. One group of men began dancing in a circle chanting loudly. All of this was being watched by the women on the other side of the partition. There was such a festive feeling with so many people about.
We were then invited to participate in a Shabbat dinner with a local family in their home.
The food was amazing, from freshly made bread and home-made dips, to fish & meat dishes, all washed down with some great local wines. We sang songs and heard stories about people’s life experiences and the lessons they learnt. It was a very enchanting evening.
If you’d like to read more about Jerusalem, click here