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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2007 /5 Kislev 5768

Banned Beggars at the Western Wall

By Sarah Shapiro


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What have we done?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This morning marked the first weekday in three decades that I wasn't confronted by beggars when approaching the Western Wall. After a long history of complaints from tourists and residents, a front-page article in the Friday (November 9) Jerusalem Post reported, "Praying, Yes — but Begging, No," — beggars have at last been banned from Judaism's holiest site. So their absence today didn't come as a complete surprise.


But it felt a little odd, even vaguely disorienting, to descend from the bus, make my way across the Western Wall Plaza, then turn right onto the walkway down toward the Wall — all without being accosted by those supplicant eyes and outstretched hands. Gone were Malka and Tzipora, Shoshana and Ilana, and all the others, whose names I never knew. Apparently, somewhere along the line, I'd gotten used to them. The persistent annoyance of their presence had become an integral feature of my Western Wall experience, perhaps as much as the huge, eternal stones themselves.


And annoyance it often was. Except for violence and outright acts of aggression (which in 30 years I myself never witnessed; perhaps behavior of that sort occurred over on the men's side) I can attest to the basic accuracy of most everything else reported in the Post. The guilt-inducing comments and the disappointed gaze, the requests for more, the ubiquitous red strings. Most irritating of all: the less than gentle, insistent tapping on one's shoulder in the midst of prayer — surely the ultimate intrusion on a person's privacy.


ONE BEGGAR in particular earned a certain notoriety by virtue of her rude insatiability. Give her a shekel and she'd want five. Five and she'd implore you for ten. Ten? You were in for a scolding. "Ze lo yafe! I just got out of the hospital! An operation! Look! Here's my scar!"


A visitor to Israel once told me how he'd given this individual NIS 20 and she had reprimanded him for not giving dollars! On one occasion when I decided impulsively to court her favor, I gave her five shekels, which she said was not enough. "Beseder [OK]! Give it back to me then!" I retorted, snatching it from her hand. That crass interaction upset my equanimity and discombobulated me to such an extent throughout my morning prayers, that I determinedly ignored her from then on, passing her by with averted eyes — which was equally discombobulating. She had me over a barrel.


It was additionally unnerving to learn sometime later that several respected rabbis in the Jewish Quarter had pooled funds and raised money on this woman's behalf. That's how she paid for the operation.


DISTURBING people's equanimity at the Wall seemed sometimes to be those beggars' stock in trade. At one point a few years ago, I even stopped going to the Western Wall because of them. More precisely, I got so sick and tired of the daily tug-of-war in my conscience that I decided to pray at home. After all, what was my charitable obligation here? Ten shekels a days adds up. Who wants to be greeted by those beseeching eyes day in day out, bright at 6 a.m.? Who can face one's own ambivalence about giving first thing in the morning?


IN MY living room, the peace and quiet was lovely. But one day, after about a month, I found myself in a depression over this or that issue in life, and missed the Wall.


How silly to deprive myself of my birthright. Please, I asked G-d, solve this problem for me.


The next morning, I returned. All the regulars were at their posts. "Where have you been?" one of the old ones exclaimed. "We were worried about you!"


With each coin's placement upon an open palm, I distinctly noticed the spot of simple yellow happiness that bloomed like a small sunburst in my dark heart.


Walking down toward the Wall, I happened to catch sight of one the younger ones from afar, just as her outstretched hand fell to her side. She didn't see me; she was looking at the backs of two teenage girls as they walked on by.


"They're pretending not to see me," she said with a wryly knowing smile when I paused to say hello. "They feel disgusted by my need. But then they want G-d to turn His eyes toward them!"


How had something so obvious eluded me for so long? It wasn't really anything in particular that they did, these women, but rather the hidden emotions they aroused, that rankled.


For what do all of us become at the Wall? We need the beggars, and to give to them — more so here than at any other site.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Sarah Shapiro's most recent books include A Gift Passed Along, Wish I Were Here, (Artscroll) and The Mother in Our Lives (Targum/Feldheim). Comment by clicking here.







© 2007, Sarah Shapiro