Written, filmed and Edited by Jeremy Hochman
“What makes a place foreign? Its location, the placement of its borders. But this designation is more than geographic. It’s sartorial, it’s culinary, it’s modal, it’s political, and it’s also religious. But for the Jews of the diaspora, is the Jewish State foreign? Or is it familiar?
Visitors to America sometimes say coming to New York feels like stepping into the set of their favorite American movie. Coming to Israel, and seeing the Western Wall, is a step into the pages of the Torah and the Talmud.
Men grab kippot for a head-covering, cleanse their soiled hands, and breathe into the bricks. Crevices are filled with appeals to the Almighty. It’s not a large wall, but it still manages to be enormous. It’s not enough to see it – it demands to be touched – to be felt.
The state is young, but it’s been forced to age quickly.
The land, though, is old. Grottoes are shaped by years of pounding from the sea, tumult and trauma you see in the jagged walls and uneven ceilings of their pathways. The same grottoes stood when the pogroms of 1881 and 1906 sent millions to America. The same grottoes stood when the Holocaust of 1939 to 1945 sent most those who didn’t leave to their death. The same grottoes stood when those who survived found in Ben Gurion their hope and in Israel their future.
We walk through the crush, rub shoulders with Jews from Canada, from Ethiopia, from Russia.
We don’t know them, but they’re not strangers.”