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Sunrise at the Kotel (Western Wall)

צילום: פלאש90

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I do not have any pictures of this magnificent scene and that is for the best. What follows is an attempt to describe in words what I witnessed when the sun rose over the Kotel plaza where tens of thousands had gathered on Friday morning for the festival of Shavuot.
I decided to be just a reporter for a few minutes to find out who those people were:
There was a group that had come from Ma'alot, a town in the Western Galilee, to celebrate the holiday in Jerusalem and a synagogue group from Arad in the Northern Negev.
I also met high school groups from New York and from Los Angeles. "This is their first time," the Los Angeles high school principal said, "and it is clear to see that they will remember this day all their lives."
On one of the roofs of the Jewish Quarter I saw a group chanting prayers and dancing with Aharon Razel, a popular Israeli singer-songwriter.
I met a woman who told me her name was Ariella, "but this has been my name for only two days," she smiled. I learned that she was born in Peru with the name Lionella, but had always felt like a stranger there. She completed her conversion on the eve of Shavuot and chose a Hebrew name. Here she was surrounded by friends who accompanied her throughout the process, celebrating her first Shavuot as a Jew.
There were many people I was careful not to approach since I did not want to interrupt their fervor. They had just finished the traditional Torah Learning (known as Tikkun Leil Shavuot) that includes passages from every book in the Bible, as well as Mishnah, Kabbalah, and the 613 mitzvot. Our sages teach that whoever learns Torah at night, a "thread of lovingkindness" is extended over them during the day. Is it really possible to see this? I believe that it is.
These are some of the people I met around me. Multiply them by tens of thousands that were there and by hundreds of thousands throughout the Jewish world. As someone who organized a minyan for Border Patrol soldiers (who got up late after guarding us all night) said: "Are you excited? Multiply your excitement by a million and you will appreciate what it was like at Mount Sinai...".


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