Gathering: A Look Back

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Sukkot- 5769 – Israel, Jerusalem, The Old City, The Kotel

I was torn – do I travel in towards the Old City of Jerusalem to celebrate, witness, and feel the aura of Chol Hamoed in general, and the Hakhel ceremony in particular, by the Kotel; or do I not venture in, battle the traffic, get pushed around by the sheer volume of people, and face the frustration of possibly not making it in all the way because of the police closing off so many of the streets?

Of course, as a Jew living in Israel today, and as a photographer, I had no choice but to go. Or should I thank my children who impressed upon me the importance of not passing up the opportunity, even it means getting pushed around a bit.

Parking a bit of a walk away, we began the trek watching as the variety of Jews passed us in the street – Ashkenazi, Sephardi, observant, secular, Ethiopian, Russian, Chareidi, Dati Leumi, to name a few.

As we got closer to the Jaffa Gate the walk became more difficult; we had to maneuver in order to keep moving forward. We had to wind our way in between so many people, women pushing strollers, elderly people walking at a slower pace. All, either coming or going – all, to or from that same holy place.

Seeing the pomegranates waiting to be juiced, the people anxious to get there, or back home (or are they one and the same), we finally made it to the steps overlooking the kotel. That was enough. We made it.

Rebecca Kowalsky, who made aliyah with her husband in 1985, is a photographer and mother of six. You can see more of her work on her site, and contact her at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.