Back to Life, Back to Reality… Tefillin at the Kotel

So, I write this as I try to process my first day of school at Machon Schechter in Jerusalem. Today, I ventured with my classmates to our new school for the year, filled with anxiety, excitement, smiles and fears. We knew the day would be long, filled with information, we knew it would be intense, we knew there would be a lot of Hebrew… but what did I expect? Today was very symbolic in many ways. First, it was my first day of school, the beginning of a new journey. This was coupled with the reading of the torah (more on that later) and parshat Beresheit, the Torah is also being read from the beginning again. And so, my journey begins!!
The first day of school began with a special treat. Bill Davidson from Detroit, owner of the Pistons and great philanthropist was in town today in order to dedicate a Torah he had written. The special piece of this is that it was written for the purpose of being used at the Masorti Kotel, at Robinson’s arch, the southern wall of the temple! We were the group that got to use it for the first time, dedicate it, dance with it, celebrate it. Celebrate the Torah, celebrate our learning together, and all right there and the site of our History. And there, I got to be, at a holy site, at the place where my ancestors gathered, adni was able to freely express my faith.
One of my goals for this year was to put on my Tefillin and daven outloud at the Kotel, or at least in the old city. This time instead of doing to be a rebel, to show my disapproval for the way the Orthodox community treats the masorti community, I wanted to do it for myself. I put on my tefillin because iw anted to, because I could, because it was a spiritually intense moment for myself. I stood at the wall, prayed with such spirit, such kavanah, that all else seemed trivial. there we were, begining our journey together, the sounds of a bar mitzvah with drums, shofarot, dancing in the distance, and the modern sounds of the cars honking surrounded me, but all i was able to pay attention to was the beauty of the moment, the warmth of the sun, the warmth of the love of Torah that surrounded us!
After that, we all quickly boarded the bus to head back to Machon Schechter where we listened to a variety of speakers and presentations on the year, all in Hebrew. Surprisingly, i understood most of it, although, it is quite hard because I cannot zone out even for a second, otherwise, I was totally lost!! We took placement exams and I placed into the Level 4 Talmud and Level 3 codes. Today we have some more advising at the school, but the rest of the day is mine. I think I will walk around and do some other mind clearing tasks before I really get into school mode!
I came home from school completely overwhelmed by all the information, but enthused and excited about the possibilities of the year. My JTS classmates seem like an incredibly enthusiastic and fun group, and a bit overpowering of the mere 8 UJ students and 24 JTS students. All in all, I am incredibly excited abou tthe year, about the possibilities it holds, about the growing, learning, experiences. I cannot wait to see what it brings!

On another note, I want to just marvel at the fact that on Shabbat we said the prayer for rain and for wind, and on Sunday, it actually rained. The weather is actually completely different from last week, it’s cool out, chilly even, snuggle weather at night. It is amazing to live in a land where prayers are actually answered. Amazing to see the conection the rabbis had with the land, with the weather, with their environment, and watch it all happen miraculously before my eyes!
And on the note, I need to get ready for my day!! I am looking forward to all that it will bring me!!

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One thought on “Back to Life, Back to Reality… Tefillin at the Kotel

  1. Shanah October 17, 2006 / 1:37 pm

    Eight years ago, my mother wanted to wear her tefillin at the Kotel and our tour guides wouldn’t let her–for fear of causing an “incident.” Baruch haShem for your courage! When we realize that our protection comes from HaShem, we will claim victory as a nation– may your tefillin at the kotel be a witness to this fact for all those davening there. Mazel Tov on a new year of studies!

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