• Gabbai

Yom Yerushalaim – A Time to Laugh, A Time to Cry


In 1967, days after the liberation of the Western Wall by the IDF, the festival of Shavuot was celebrated. As they do today, Jews flocked from all over the city to the Western Wall to pray the morning services. The walk was surely inspiring, as it is to this day, as Jews converge from all directions toward the old city of Jerusalem in the faint dawn light. Upon arriving at the Wall that morning in 1967 the silence was audible. Unlike these days, when singing and dancing accompanies any joyous occasion at the Western Wall, that year there was silence. The silence was broken by the sobs that burst forth from the multitudes. They cried. They stood there and wept at the wall. Why were they crying? They should have been singing and dancing!

Some 22 years earlier a woman and her five year old son were hiding in an underground bunker somewhere in Europe. Like many Jews in those terrible times, they sought refuge from the Nazi regime wherever they could. In attics and basements belonging to kind gentiles or in holes in the ground in the forest. People were found eventually, more often than not, and dragged to their death. The greatest hazard to survival in such circumstances were babies and young children who could not stifle their cries of pain and hunger. Searches were conducted all the time to root out those Jews and often dogs were used to sniff out their positions. The few who did survive, did so against all odds, and it was especially rare for a young child to be among the survivors.

“Hush, hush,” the mothers would constantly remind the children. These children lived in circumstances where any sound could give them away and they were simply not allowed to cry. Crying was a luxury for another time, a different circumstance.

In 1945 noises of troops