Walking alone. Walking though Yerushalayim alone. I felt alone. I felt scared. I didn’t want to feel scared. I should not have felt scared. But scared I felt. Squeezing, clenching my pepper spray bottle hidden inside my coat pocket. I never owned mace until a couple of months ago. But I own it now. I own it so I won’t feel so scared.
I was walking down Rechov Yaffo toward the Old City walls. I was walking towards the Kotel to daven. I was walking with a purpose. I needed to talk to Hashem. Really talk. When someone in your family needs Tefillot, you need to talk to Hashem. And if I am lucky enough to live in Yerushalayim, then this conversation would happen at the Kotel. Up close and personal.
The notion of living without a car may not seem like a foreign idea to you, if you’ve lived in a city all your life. Or it may seem like the farthest concept if you grew up like me, in a suburban town. For my entire life, living in New Jersey communities, I traveled by car. Remember those station wagons that you rode to school in? I used to sit backwards in the trunk and climb out through the window, dragging my school bag behind me. Then we had all different styles of minivans — with new features each time the latest model came out. Once married and our kids were school-aged, we leased our first minivan with two sliding doors. I was thrilled — it would definitely make driving carpool less stressful.
Since moving to Israel, we’ve had many opportunities to host students studying here from abroad for their gap year. They’re away from their families, and we’re happy to make them feel at home. Some of these high school graduates have acclimated to their new environment, while others are very homesick. Can’t blame them. For us, each time it is definitely a noteworthy experience. My kids love having new people to give them attention- play games, tell stories, and just talk with them. And my husband and I love having “time off” while the kids are entertained by others. So it’s a win-win situation for hosts and guests!