Friday, October 7, 2011

Yom Kippur at the Wall

WE JUST had one of those ultimate Jerusalem moments. Standing by the Western Wall at sunset on the eve not just of Shabbat but Yom Kippur, as the call to evening prayer at one of the Old City mosques mixed with the gentle wailing of the devout Haredi at prayer, Israel sniper overhead silhouetted against the darkening night sky, there it was: the essence of what all the fuss is about. I'm sure if I'd craned my neck I could have seen the Church of the Holy Sepulchre too.

Despite being but one of a swell of tourists, it felt like snooping to witness one of the most religious sights at arguably the world's most religious site, yet I couldn't tear myself away. A Louis in tow gave me an excuse to linger because he was fascinated by it all, begging me to take him up close. I was shy to barge in, but seeing his interest, an old lady gestured me in to the bit segregated for women - or "for mummies, little boys, and babies, but not daddies", as Louis put it.

He already knew about the religions festival because I'd had to explain why we were dashing to the shops yet again at lunchtime to buy a last bottle of milk before the Shabbat shutdown, but once at the Wall I think the lack of music and bands confused him. You see, the last festival we were at was a street festival in SE1, and before that, watching Lenny Kravitz at a music festival in Hyde Park. Which left me rather stumbling for words to try and explain what everyone was doing, gently rocking back and forth, prayer book in hand, and for what purpose. Telling him people were wishing for things that they wanted made it all seem horribly materialistic, especially when he started confusing it with the time we threw a penny into a wishing well.

But he nailed it eventually: "Like no killing," he said. Exactly. Someone get him a seat at the peace talks.

1 comment:

Iota said...

Reminds me of when my oldest, aged about 5 at the time, discovered about war, and said "why can't everyone just be nice to each other?"