Recently I was privileged to guide a once in a lifetime tour. A nice family from Be’er Sheva called me with one special request. Dina, The mother and grandmother of the family is struggling with cancer and the doctors fear that her days are numbered. Dina always loved to travel and wished to try and have one last tour in Jerusalem. The family was working hard on the mission, Magen David Adom in Israel let us use the Wish Ambulance and I was chosen to guide the group. I met the family on a hot summers day on Mount Zion. Five minutes and a few Borekas later came the ambulance. The wish ambulance is a unique project. It is an ambulance equipped with cutting edge technology, that gives seriously ill people a chance to make their wishes come true. Unfortunately, often these wishes are the last ones fulfilled for these people. The ambulance was donated by the MDA friends from Sweden and it is operated by a well trained crew. A crew of four that does fantastic work.
With the ambulance came a designated wheelchair with huge wheels and fast comfortable plastic joints. I have never seen such a chair, and so didn’t the passers-by who looked quite astonished by the sight. A few minutes later we set of for our first stop – the tomb of David. Entering the site was not that easy with a wheelchair and it took us a while. Still it was worth it. People come to this place, where according to tradition, King David is buried in order to read portions of the book of Psalms: “Out of the depths have I called Thee, O LORD, Lord, hearken unto my voice; let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications… I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning; yea, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption…”. I remembered these well known verses from the book of Psalms chapter 130 and they got that day with Dina and her family a different and dipper meaning.
Walking through the Jewish quarter we past a few locations that are accessible to wheelchairs and talked about the recent changes we could observe in almost every corner of the place. Dina asked a lot of knowledgeable and intelligent questions. It was clear she had spent a lot of time wandering in Jerusalem. I answered all her questions and inside I was impressed by the strength that this remarkable woman was showing.
Now it was time for the Wailing Wall, the Kotel. I sent the wish ambulance to the square near the Kotel and there it was parked with the help of the Israeli police. A great help was also Mrs. Mali Feder from the Jerusalem municipality tourist office, who helped us get the much needed parking permit. We went down with our fancy wheelchair through the road to the Kotel. Shamefully we have no other decent way to get to the Kotel today (there is a future plan of building a wheelchair lift). The Jewish quarter itself is accessible and wheelchair friendly but it is impossible to get down from there to the Kotel and we had to block the road for a while in order to get Dina close to the Wall. Again it was worth it all. I live secular life but I must admit I became tearful there, in front of the Wailing wall as I looked from the men section of the Kotel to the other side of the partition and watched Dina and her daughters. The Kotel brings out peoples feelings and now it was happening again. You couldn’t be indifferent watching Dina on her special wheelchair surrounded by her beloved family and the devoted MDA people praying on that Holy place.
There near the Kotel ended our tour. I parted from Dina after she was safe and sound on the wish ambulance. The family headed back to Be’er Sheva and held a party for thrilled Dina. I went back home all emotional and couldn’t stop thinking of the experience.
A day later I got a moving letter from the family. I am still not sure who should thank who. I was truly privileged.