On Rosh Chodesh, the new moon of the Jewish month of Av, I found myself in Jerusalem, in the plaza near the Kotel (the Western Wall of the Temple) surrounded by hundreds of people—and barricades.
I almost didn’t find myself there. When I first arrived at the Plaza, I was enveloped by a throng of curious Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) girls who tried to see what was happening as they approached the Kotel for their morning prayers. Still looking for a way in, I rounded the corner of the barricades and encountered a large, angry group of Haredi men, whose jeers rose louder and louder. But the sound of women praying in song rose above their taunts, and soon an Israeli soldier parted the barricades so that I could go inside.