A question, a story, and a concert

* I’ve been thinking about the Kotel. (when’s it gonna get rebuilt, diggy diggy/when’s it gonna get rebuilt) Does anybody have statistics for a gender breakdown of how many people visit the Wall on a given day, and how long the average visit’s for? No political agenda; I’m just curious.
* The last time I went to the Kotel, it was for about twenty seconds. No lie. It was the day that we were leaving Israel. I was waiting for Itta and her parents, all of whom overslept, overdressed, and/or decided to ride their bikes for another ten miles. Also, I was 40 minutes early. I’d woken up listening to Shlomo Carlebach, who was like “What’s the first thing you do when you go to Israel? You go to the Holy Wall.” It had taken me three days to get to the Holy Wall. And, damn, it was not the greatest experience. So I decided to go once more. And I ran. Got lost in the Arab Shuk for the first time in ages, jostled in any number of ways, and by the time I was there I had like 10 minutes till I had to be back at their hotel. So I just ran to the wall, don’t even know what I said, but I said it. And then I ran back. Don’t know why that came up — but that all alone made it worth it. At least, tell it to the kind folks who paid for me to get there.
* As BZ just testified, Chicago is not dead!!! Come help prove it at the Rabbinical School Dropouts show.

6 thoughts on “A question, a story, and a concert

  1. Keep in mind that many women do not bother coming (ahem) because their experience is so crowded and depressing, especially in contrast to all the hoopla next door in the capacious synaoguge/beit midrash/hang out/party sector.
    This will alter your numbers.

  2. The kotel is the single most visited location (tourist and otherwise) in Israel and nothing comes close to it. Globes (the prestigious Israeli business daily where I read about this) occasionally posts the numbers sent from the tourism ministry of top visitor attractions and they don’t even bother to put the kotel on the list. I do not know if this is to remove the only religious location off the list, or because it ‘goes without saying’.
    Anyway, I think many people stay for enough time to say a prayer session or read a psalm or two and take in the atmosphere. I think that any visit to the kotel depends entirely on the visitor. The kotel is not marketed, and virtually no events are used to promote it either (except tisha b’av). You might be lucky to catch a military ceremony in the evening, or my favourite is when they bring classes of small children for a siddur or torah ceremony. Otherwise, it’s just a wall. Sometimes you go and you don’t feel anything, sometimes you go and just end up chatting with friends, sometimes you go and the only thing you remember is being accosted by tzedakah people, and occasionally you go and truly connect.

  3. I was there Tisha B’Av and it was (fittingly) miserable. The men had it all and the women were so crowded there was no room to maneuver or sit. I tried to incorporate my sense of anger and frustration into my musings on loss and destruction.
    I’m in Israel once or twice a year and at one time would go to the wall in my first day in Jerusalem. I’ve stopped going. It stands as a symbol of inequality in Israeli society and in my mind and that symbol mars all other meaning.
    I’ve started collecting historical images of the wall where men and women are alongside one another. I would love to study the modern history of the kotel and the division of the genders. Let me know if anyone has resources they would recommend! siviyo at yahoo

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