Where Getting Rained out can be a Blessing
You see that blue sky above the ancient white stones? Beautiful, yes? And not a cloud in the sky. It hardly ever rains here. This is Israel. So, who would imagine our family celebration would be rained out?
Back in July, I went through all the right channels in Israel to reserve my family a time slot at the Davidson Archeological Center (in the above picture) for a second Bar Mitzvah celebration for my son. I pictured a sun-soaked day like the one above. I packed khakis and open toed sandals and cotton button-down shirts for the boys. No ties. Very Israeli. For my daughter and I, flowing thin ankle length skirts. And sandals.
All the while, we’ve been praying for rain each Shabbat. In Judaism, Jews have a special prayer we say between the High Holidays and Passover:
Mashiv Haruach U’Morid Hagashem
Bless you Gd who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.
Of course, praying for rain is good for anyplace, but especially Israel. They don’t have the Nile River. Or the Great Lakes. Their main source of water for crops, for their showers and drinking needs, is rain.
Our prayers were answered. And, yes, we felt very blessed in a country that only receives 19.4 inches of rain all year. The rain drenched Jerusalem the day of our celebration. When rain falls in Jerusalem, the sidewalks, made of that white limestone, become very slippery. The rain made it impossible to take out a Torah Scroll in an outdoor setting.
So, inside we went to the Fuschberg Center for Conservative Judaism where we worshipped with ironJew Rabbi Matthew Field officiating:
Before our trip , many asked me if we would have Nate’s Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel.
I said no.
I already had that experience – pretty much a slap in the face – at my own “Bat Mitzvah” at the Kotel. Being that I was a girl, I didn’t have to really do anything. But my dad got an aliyah and I got to wave from him from the women’s section.
I have absolute respect for those who pray at the Kotel. I utter my deepest prayers there too. But for me, as a woman, the Kotel is a place for individual reflection and personal prayer. I’m not asking this place to change. It is the Kotel, after all.
But for my family celebration, I wished to have a completely egalitarian service where our family: us, kids, parents, and grandparents, could stand together to celebrate. I also wanted my daughter and I to have a chance to read Torah in Jerusalem.
And we did.
The next day, we returned to the Davidson Archeological Park to explore an area excavated to show how King Herod built an enormous arch (named Robinson’s Arch for the American Archeologist who discovered this place on the Southern edge of the Western Wall) to create a bridge between the upper part of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount.
If you are looking to have an egalitarian service, this is the place. And, pray for good weather of the sunny variety: