Tamar’s Blog: Something to believe in

Tamar Willis

I am not a deeply religious person, and I never have been.  I’m not entirely sure what to believe when it comes to God.  When it comes to Judaism, I connect to the cultural side as opposed to the religious side.  I love the culture of Judaism.  Coming on this program, I knew I’d be exposed to Jewish and Israeli culture but that inevitably I would have to face the more religious aspects of Israel.
Going to the Kotel was not something I thought would mean much to me.  I had been before, and I never experienced a religious catharsis (or something of that sort) that would cause me to feel a great respect and appreciation for this wall.  When I got there, as expected, I did not feel much.  It was just a wall that I’d seen before in pictures and a couple times in person.  It was nothing too special.
However, when I walked up to the wall, something changed.  It was nothing major, but all of a sudden I felt a connection to something.  I thought about the wall and about how it had been built by our ancestors thousands of years ago.  If anything, it was cool to see and feel something so old.
Then I looked around me, and I saw people praying.  People were praying with such kavana (intention) that it felt wrong to even watch them.  Some people were crying, some even sobbing.  I decided to pray Mincha, which I never do.  I figured if I would feel anything, I might as well try to feel it here, at the holiest place in Judaism.  Nothing really changed, but I still felt a connection to Jews as a nation.
It may sound weird, but my connection to the wall comes from the fact that other people feel so connected to it.  The Kotel, for some people, is the holiest place in the world, one of the places they want to see before they die.  For me, it’s not, but my respect for those people translates into a respect for the Kotel.  I feel connected to the Jews as a nation when I’m there.  The Kotel is a place where anyone, whether they believe in God, don’t believe, or don’t know if they believe, can believe in something—the power of unity.