Regardless of the strong sun and heat at the time we attended a Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel yesterday, all was so peaceful when we were there. We even rushed down via the Arab shuq, which my husband generally takes, and not either of my two favorite ways. I didn’t feel or notice any tension in the air, even though according to the news there was a lot of Arab violence not far from where we were.
Instead of riots there was more a carnival-like atmosphere, especially due to the Maccabiah athletes of all ages from all over the world who were gathering at the Kotel for prayers, dancing and singing.
As you can see, there are also handicapped/special athletes who compete in Maccabiah sports events.
One man leaned over the mechitza/divider to photograph his daughter. I asked which of them had completed, and he answered that both he and his daughter were Maccabiah athletes.
Women courteously accepted the shawls, scarves and wrap-around skirts offered by the soft-speaking polite women who offered them and then told them to keep them on until close to the exit where they could be returned. It was clear that some were even grateful for the protection against the strong summer sunlight which was terribly hard to escape and avoid at high noon.
Yes, contrary to the impression you get from the news, the Kotel has a nice atmosphere. I felt no tension or resentment at all. And there is an egalitarian section, which is perfectly open, for those who want.