Stone upon stone upon stone
Polished by touch of hand.
Shining from multitudes’ tears
Standing tall in an eternal land.
Touch upon touch upon touch
In tremors of joy and of pain
Centuries’ old dream come true
Hearts linked to a wall in a chain.
Tear upon tear upon tear
Shed in a stream that won’t dry,
Praying for peace to come
That no more of her sons may die.
Land upon land upon land
Casting waves upon the shore
Determined from their hearts
To live free forevermore.
Kotel, Kotel, Kotel,
You’ve engraved your stones on my heart
So now I lay my prayer in yours
Trusting Him before whom you stand.
All that you are no man can see
But perhaps with this song it’s a start.
Kotel is the Hebrew word for the Western Wall. Contrary to popular belief, the Western Wall was not actually a part of the temple. Rather, it is the only remaining part of the wall that surrounded the temple grounds. Today, Jewish people from around the world make their pilgrimage to the Kotel, to pray. Because this is the closest they can get to the temple, until a new one is built, they often write down their prayers and slip them into the cracks of the walls.
This poem also refers to “waves” (Land upon land upon land, casting waves upon the shore…). In Israel, each major influx of Jewish people coming to Israel to live is called a “wave”. Thus, the waves refer to the people’s from different nations who have come to Israel over the years.
I wrote this poem in 1982 on a bus as I saw the Kotel for the first time, and pondered on it’s meaning to me.