Two babies at the Kotel

When Chaya Zissel Braun awoke on the morning of October 22, she had her whole life ahead of her.

At the age of three months she was surely able to smile, and was probably beginning to know the difference between her parents and everyone else.

On that day, on Oct. 22, with her whole life ahead of her, Chaya’s parents took her for the first time to the Kotel. Can you imagine the gratitude her family felt as they held their baby girl close to the warm, golden stones? Can you imagine their joyful tears? Their prayers of thanksgiving?

I can imagine this, because just days earlier my husband and I, our daughter, son in law, and one year old granddaughter Nava, went together to the Kotel.

It was Nava’s first visit.

We laid Nava’s little hand against the wall, my daughter placed her hand on top, and my hand rested over both of theirs. Together my daughter and I whispered the shehehchianu prayer.

Afterwards, Nava’s daddy and grandpa took her to the men’s section of the wall. More prayers of thanks, more awe, more gratitude.

Last, for good measure, all five of us went together to the new, egalitarian section of the wall.

“Do you think that Nava will remember any of this?” my daughter asked. “No”, I replied, “she will remember nothing. But through photos and our retelling, it will become part of her story of herself.”

On that glorious Friday, bathed in the kind of light found only in Jerusalem, we left the Kotel, strapped Nava into her stroller, and walked blissfully back to our vacation apartment.

Chaya Zissel Braun left the Kotel in her stroller too. Her family must have felt like like we felt, as though they were walking on air.

They headed for the light rail train which would take them home.

At the train stop, a Palestinian man rammed his car into the group of people waiting for the train.

Chaya and her family were among them. Chaya was killed, her father one of eight people injured.

For the rest of my life, whenever I think about our blessed, holy, awe-filled afternoon at the Kotel with our granddaughter, I will also think of Chaya and her family.

May her memory be a blessing and may God comfort her family along with all the mourners of Zion.

(This piece is an excerpt from a longer essay published by the Times of Israel in 2014.)

Sally Abrams

Posted by Sally Abrams

Sally Abrams is a speaker and writer on Israel, Jewish life, and parenting. Her essays are widely read on Times of Israel, Kveller, TCJewfolk, and shared across social media. You can follow her via her personal site.

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