Ocean Noah is a sophomore at San Francisco State University, and went on SF Hillel's Summer 2018 Birthright-Israel trip.
As I was approaching the Kotel, I tried to think of a meaningful prayer or a song to play in my head. Something to put me in a holy mindframe. I was stumped, but I went to the wall anyway.
I was pulled in close. I felt as though I was being held by a grandmother. The Jerusalem breeze was stroking my hair. The smooth stones were holding my hand gently. I could smell that she has been alive for many years.
That was when I began to cry. Bubbe, I thought to myself, maybe these are tears of self pity, but this embrace is the only time I have ever felt at home. Or like there is a place that was made for me, and it is here with you.
I felt an overwhelming wave of fatigue and urgency. I thought about how lost I have felt before, and how hard I’ve had to fight in only my 19 years to feel comfortable enough to find my own couch cushion dent in this planet. I thought about the generations before me, the slaves and the refugees who traded their lives for hope.
My father’s family was enslaved in America, and in their “liberation” his peers were being shot down with forceful hoses in the streets. My mother’s family was in fearful refuge, and in their “asylum” she struggled to make friends because she was a “dirty Jew”.
Everyone wants to feel what I feel with you, I thought. Generations of people saying “next year in Jerusalem!” And here I am.
In the silk smooth, soothing embrace of yours.
A wall of stone.