fbpx
Friday, June 5, 2020

My visit to the Broken Wall

https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
David Suissa
David Suissa is President of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal, where he has been writing a weekly column on the Jewish world since 2006. In 2015, he was awarded first prize for "Editorial Excellence" by the American Jewish Press Association. Prior to Tribe Media, David was founder and CEO of Suissa Miller Advertising, a marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today. He sold his company in 2006 to devote himself full time to his first passion: Israel and the Jewish world. David was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Montreal, and now lives in Los Angeles with his five children.

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

I could never have imagined that I would find something missing in the Western Wall, that epic monument to Jewish suffering and collective memory that I have been visiting for decades.

It would never have occurred to me that something was limiting my experience as I faced those giant and ancient stones, still standing strong and erect, a symbol of Jewish resilience if there ever was one. They may have destroyed our Temple, those stones said to me, but look, we’re still standing, as proud and solid as ever.

The Western Wall has always been a place to feel more than to think. You feel the miracle of Jewish survival in a way that links you directly to our ancestors and how they worshiped God. It’s all there, in one extraordinary package— peoplehood, God and Torah, in the heart of the spiritual center of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.

So, what on earth could be missing?

I found out this week when Rabbi Noa Sattath, director of the Israel Action Center in Jerusalem, took me on a tour of the secluded area adjacent to the Western Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch, that is being planned as a pluralistic prayer area. The space, which is larger than I expected, will be designed by architect Michael Arad, who designed the World Trade Center Memorial.

It’s well known that the Western Wall has long been administered by strict Orthodox rules, which has made it extremely difficult for the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism to hold egalitarian prayer services at the Wall. Decades of struggle finally led to an agreement last year to expand and build out the area at Robinson's Arch, which is already being used as a makeshift space for pluralistic services.

Let’s put aside for now the distressing signals that the government, under pressure from Charedi members of the coalition, is having second thoughts about the agreement. Let’s assume that the agreement will go through. One reason I think it will is that the two areas are completely separated– the new area is far out of sight, separated, as it were, by a thick wall hugging an embankment.

This is the mother of all mechitzahs, invisible, distant and fully sound proof.

It is in this new, pluralistic area that I had a revelation of what was missing in the Western Wall I have cherished for so long: broken stones.

You see, this new area doesn’t just have the remains of a wall to remind us of the Second Temple. It also has these huge stones that fell to the ground, stuck forever in time.

When you pray in this area, you see a wall, yes, but you also see the fallen stones.

If the wall reminds us of our strength, the stones remind us of our weakness. If the wall makes us proud, the stones humble us. If the wall is a huge exclamation point, the stones are many questions.

It is a beautiful experience of wholeness. A visible and ancient reminder of Jewish duality. I must be proud, yes, but I must also be humble. I know, yes, but I also don’t know. I seek answers, but I also seek questions.

This is what I will miss when I will pray at the Western Wall. I will miss the brokenness. The struggle. The humility of stones that fell and never got picked up.

How deliciously ironic that a pluralistic prayer area, after decades of struggle, would end up in a place that features a physical monument to brokenness.

Maybe there is poetic justice in the struggle to complete the agreement, even after it has been agreed to. Maybe this, too, is a reminder of the Jewish story, a story of an eternal struggle that is never meant to end.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at [email protected].

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

AIPAC Tells African-American Members It’s ‘Horrified’ by George Floyd Slaying

(JTA) — In a letter to its African-American members, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC said it was “horrified” by the killing of George Floyd in...

The Israel Film Center Festival Goes Virtual this Year. Here’s What You Need to Know

With theaters closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, movie releases largely have gone virtual, allowing fans to screen the latest films at home. This...

Dozens of Rabbis in Israel Call for Day of Mourning Over Killings of George Floyd and Autistic Palestinian Man

(JTA) — Dozens of rabbis from Israel and beyond have called for a day of mourning and fasting over the killings of George Floyd,...

A Moment in Time: When Injustice Steals our last Breath

Dear all, Toward the very end of the Adon Olam prayer are the words, “B’yado afkid ruchi/ Into God’s hands I give my breath.” These words,...

Table for Five: Nasso

One verse, five voices. Edited by Salvador Litvak, the Accidental Talmudist shall make her drink the water, and it shall be that, if she...

Petition Launched Calling for UC Divestment From Israel in Response to Police Brutality

A petition was launched on June 1 calling for the University of California (UC) to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel, to...

Palestinian Authority Refuses to Accept Taxes Collected for It by Israel

The Palestinian Authority is refusing to accept the taxes collected for it by Israel. It’s part of the P.A.’s decision to boycott anything that smacks...

Norway Will Withhold Funding to Palestinians Over Textbooks It Says Promote Hate and Violence

Norway said Thursday that it will withhold half of the year’s funding to the Palestinian Authority’s education system until it stops using textbooks that...

The Rashi Button – a poem for Torah Portion Nasso

All the numbers…who are fit to perform the service for the service I found a musical secret in the Torah thanks to clicking the Rashi button. The service...

Penn State Condemns Photo of Student With Swastika on Her Back

Penn State University condemned a photo circulating on social media of students showing off swastikas drawn on their bodies. The student-run Daily Collegian reported that...

Culture

The Israel Film Center Festival Goes Virtual this Year. Here’s What You Need to Know

With theaters closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, movie releases largely have gone virtual, allowing fans to screen the latest films at home. This...

Black Jewish Woman Speaks out on Racism She Experienced at L.A. Jewish Day Schools

"As a black Jew, I've never faced more racism in my life than I have from the Jewish community and Jewish schools."

‘Mrs. America’ Is a Love Letter to Jewish Women

Who else could stand up to a figure as formidable, organized and savvy as Phyllis Schlafly?

Amid Accusations, Lea Michele Apologizes for Racist Behavior

The meal-kit company HelloFresh also responded quickly, terminating its relationship with Michele.

Rep. John Lewis Taught Me Good Advocates Have Allies

In February, I headed to Washington D.C. for a national public policy conference for the Los Angeles chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. I was thrilled...

Latest Articles
Latest

AIPAC Tells African-American Members It’s ‘Horrified’ by George Floyd Slaying

(JTA) — In a letter to its African-American members, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC said it was “horrified” by the killing of George Floyd in...

The Israel Film Center Festival Goes Virtual this Year. Here’s What You Need to Know

With theaters closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, movie releases largely have gone virtual, allowing fans to screen the latest films at home. This...

Dozens of Rabbis in Israel Call for Day of Mourning Over Killings of George Floyd and Autistic Palestinian Man

(JTA) — Dozens of rabbis from Israel and beyond have called for a day of mourning and fasting over the killings of George Floyd,...

A Moment in Time: When Injustice Steals our last Breath

Dear all, Toward the very end of the Adon Olam prayer are the words, “B’yado afkid ruchi/ Into God’s hands I give my breath.” These words,...

Table for Five: Nasso

One verse, five voices. Edited by Salvador Litvak, the Accidental Talmudist shall make her drink the water, and it shall be that, if she...

Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein Accused of Sexual Assault by 4 More Women, Including Minor in New York Lawsuit

A new lawsuit filed against Harvey Weinstein in New York city accuses the former film producer of raping four women, including one who was...

Lil Dicky Is the Larry David of Rap in His Show ‘Dave’

If you haven’t heard of the comic rapper Lil Dicky, and you are at least tangentially interested in rap or comedy, you should familiarize...


‘Love & Stuff’ Sees Life, Death and Motherhood Through a Jewish Lens

How do you cope with both the death of a parent and the artifacts she left behind, while preparing to become a mother yourself...

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 52: Dealing with the Rise of Jew-Hatred

New David Suissa Podcast Every Morning. Author Severyn Ashkenazy discusses the plague of anti-Semitism and his new book, Swords of the Vatican, Reflections of a...

The Orthodox, Libertarian, Pro-Weed Israeli Politician

Once upon a time, in an election far far away, in April of 2019, amidst the political cacophony of right and left, one party...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x