Reflections from Shabbat b’Yerushalayim
Beneath the massive stone of the southwestern wall of what remains of the Second Temple, Rabbi Elka Abrahamson granted us permission to invite others into our personal prayer space by way of our imagination. I was joined by my late grandmother — for if I had found pleasure here, she would be rejoicing, and she never had the opportunity to delight in this magnificent country. I felt her presence.
Lost in my own memories and distracted by the magnitude of walls surrounding our prayer space, gradually I heard the sighs and soft whimpers of my friends nearby; loss and hope for strength surrounded me. Everything about that moment seemed perfect, the air — only slightly chilled, the sun — setting to reflect light onto Yerushelyim shel zahav and my husband by my side.
I thought to myself, less than an hour ago our cohort rejoiced as we entered the walls of the Old City! Two hours prior, we were amazed by the determination of three women who built a Community Resilience Center in Sderot to counsel families exposed to the trauma and terror of war. Prior to their conversation, at Kibbutz Kfar Maymon — we were reminded by IDF Commander Noam Tibon (WIFA, Class 13) — of how the continual loss of hope and desperation of a people destroys lives. And two days before that, Haredi women shared their uphill struggles of finding their voice, in exercising their feminist rights, and broadening their exposure and influence in modern society among their ultra-Orthodox community.
The leaders that we encountered this past week endured frightening circumstances and managed to improve and protect the lives of others. Their stability and leadership strengthened their communities, and ensured a hopeful future for so many people. Their struggles challenge me to look at my community's challenges through a different set of lenses.
Sitting at the wall, I tried to concentrate, but all of the thoughts of the week ignited within me a swell of emotion, then tears; prayer for me in that moment was a very complicated task. Each of the characters in these narratives whirled together in my mind while I tried to remember the poetic words of Jonathan Geffen and David Broza — Yiheyeh Tov.
Children wear wings
and fly off to the army
and after two years
they return without an answer.
People live under stress
looking for a reason to breathe
and between hatred and murder
they talk about peace.
And all will be good
yes, all will be good
though I sometimes break down
but this night
oh, this night,
I will stay with you.
In that moment of shira shketa (quiet singing), I offered gratitude for the short time that my grandmother and I were able to share (as adult women) before she left us 8 years ago.
The experiences of this past week in Jerusalem opened my mind to inspirational hope for Israel. Beneath the complicated layers portrayed by the media's untruthful perceptions are in fact inspirational stories. It is these stories which I will carry with me and transmit their relevance and hope in my continued path of leadership.
Lindsay Feldman is a Wexner Heritage alum (Dallas 13) and Past Chair of The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas' Women's Auxilary: Younger Set; and has served on the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board of Directors. She currently serves on the Executive Committee for Camp Young Judaea Texas. Lindsay is a volunteer at her children’s schools and at Congregation Anshai Torah in Plano, Texas. As the Community Relations Liaison for The Legacy Senior Communities, Lindsay promotes The Legacy's continuum of Healthcare services for seniors to the Jewish Community. Lindsay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.