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.
Because having only moved to Israel 5 months ago, I felt alone- for the first time. Leaving my family behind was not easy. And today it was hard. I miss them. And I’m sad that I can’t be there in person for them. It’s always difficult to miss s’machot. But when something scary is going on, it’s even harder. The tears have been flowing since last night when I found out. Found out that my father needs to have heart bypass surgery. My father. My eyes are puffy and red. He’s in surgery as I type this and I feel helpless.
So as I made my way through Sha’ar Yaffo, I tried to keep my eyes, my puffy eyes, as focused as I could on all my surroundings. Because for the last four months, that’s how I’ve felt I needed to walk. With pepper spray in my pocket. But then I looked at the Old City walls, and the cobblestone walkways. And I realized something that made me feel stronger, braver, fearless. These walkways have been walked on for centuries. These walls have seen history happen in front of them. I am, we are, just a miniscule part of the story. Life happened before and life will continue after.
I made it to the Kotel wall. It was a cold, rainy morning. There was room for me to go right up to the front, to daven and cry face to face. There is something very soothing about standing there vulnerably with no care at all at who is standing next to you. So that’s when the tears started flowing, it was like no one was there except Hashem. And I hope Hashem heard me. Because I really need my father to be OK. Better than OK.
And then my phone rang. It was only 5:45 AM in New Jersey. It was my father. He called me from his hospital bed. He called to tell me that he loves me. I told him I had just left from the Kotel and I was walking outside the Old City walls. And he told me to be careful. Because instead of focusing on himself and his surgery that would start in an hour, he wanted to protect me, his oldest child, who he still thinks is his little girl. And I wanted to only worry about him, my father.
And at that moment, I didn’t feel alone. Because I knew that Hashem heard me. He had to, otherwise how did He know that I needed to speak to my father at that moment? So was I walking alone? No. We’re never walking alone. We’re always walking with Hashem. But I still kept my pepper spray in my pocket for added protection. And I hope I will never need to use it. G-d willing, no one should ever need to use it.