My Experience at the Kotel

6 years ago Leighest 0

Natalie Sharbin, Fairfield, CT


This summer, I had the amazing privilege to go on CTeen Heritage Quest, a three week trip to Poland and Israel. While there were many inspiring and eye opening experiences, one stands out to me in particular: Friday night at the Kotel.

While I have attended Friday night services at home in the past, this one felt so different. At the Kotel, we ushered in the Shabbat with a version of  Lecha Dodi that I am familiar with, but this time, I sang it with more pride and spirit than I ever had before. The fact that I was praying at the holiest site in Judaism, a place with such a rich history and importance for the last thousands of years, made the prayers that much more special.

The people who were at the Kotel that night also made that experience so much more memorable for me. After we finished the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat prayers, we started singing and dancing to songs like Am Yisrael Chai with other people who were at the Kotel, not only with our group.

All of us girls and women who were singing and dancing came from different backgrounds, places, beliefs, and religious observance, but that didn’t matter. We were all connected by one common thread: our Jewish roots. Although I had never spoken a word to the people who were in our circle, I felt like I was amongst family.

I have often felt intimidated by Jews more observant than me, and I always felt like I was being judged. However, that Friday night at the Kotel, I realized that was not the case. I felt more welcome than I ever had before as a Jew. Sometimes it’s easy for us to look down at each other whether we’re “more religious” or “less religious,” but at the end of the day, we are all Jews in Hashem’s eyes. That Friday night was an incredible experience, and one I will always cherish.