Sem Girl Says
"Israel is not just a far away land in the Middle East that one day the Jewish people will return to post galus. It became a place where I felt God, where I lived the freest I ever have."
Everyone always spoke with such longing for the Kotel. Love laced their every expression for this wall of stones. I had painted an image in my mind of holiness and awe. I imagined being there, davening, connecting. When I made my way to Israel, excited to live there for a year and learn in an amazing seminary, I soon thereafter ended up at the Kotel. I took step after step, coming closer and closer. I scouted out and squished into an opening along the wall, sandwiched between two women. I looked to my right. My left. I closed my eyes and waited for the tears to come. They didn’t. I searched inside and I didn’t feel the holiness that everyone spoke about. I didn’t feel connected. I left disappointed.
As I began my limited time in Eretz Yisroel, I experienced all sorts of experiences. Mundane to spiritual- I hiked dried-up rivers, I searched for a lost pineapple, I tasted new foods, I played scrabble with a charming old woman for hours. All these moments and opportunities I took attached me more and more to the land I began to call home. I was soaring spiritually, learning so much more than I realized there was to learn. I was surrounded by the environment of the holy land, experiencing the extreme hashgacha of HaShem, seeing His hand in everything.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, my whole seminary was packing their suitcases frantically. Coronavirus arrived and everyone panicked. If the girls weren’t stressed, their parents stressed for them. I planted my feet, gathered two friends, and refused to leave. Coronavirus wasn’t going to scare me. Eventually, though, I had to go home, and right before Pesach, I hopped into a taxi on the way to the airport. Those tears that I waited for at the Kotel all those months finally streamed down my face. I couldn’t go to the Kotel to say goodbye! I couldn’t connect to the place so many others did when I actually formed a strong bond and connection to the wonderful land of the Jews. I couldn’t pour out my heart and soul to HaShem, to send Him my frustration and sorrow along with countless strangers. I couldn’t experience the comfort of praying emotionally along with the rest of K'lal Yisroel, all feeling something different, yet feeling it at the same time, in the same place.
Israel is not just a far away land in the Middle East that one day the Jewish people will return to post galus. It became a place where I felt God, where I lived the freest I ever have. Where I lived a life that set me on the proper stepping stones I need to go far in my self-growth. Eretz Yisroel, I can now say, means the world to me, and I smile when I think of the tears I have shed, do shed, and will shed in Eretz Yisroel, leaving Eretz Yisroel, and outside of Eretz Yisroel. This holy place HaShem gave? It is my home.
My name is Goldie Amsel, born and raised in Monsey, New York. My heart is in Israel and I would love to live there, but time will tell where I end up and where life takes me!