I was always drawn to the picture hanging next to our front door. It was a long, rectangular bronze etching of black, hunched figures standing in front of a massive wall. The round copper Seder plate next to it didn’t draw me in the same way. I didn’t like the Star of David mounted on a plate, embellished with a deep-green stone. But the picture of the wall magnetized my soul.

“That is the Kotel, referred by the world as the ‘Wailing Wall,’” my father told me one day when he found me craning my neck to stare up at the picture.

“How can a wall wail?” I asked, the naiveté of a child tingeing my question.

I knew that I wanted to be part of a longing for something great“The wall doesn’t wail; people do. It is the only wall left of the Temple we once had.”

I longed to join those hunched figures crying at the wall, because even though I wasn’t exactly sure what to cry about, I knew that I wanted to be part of a longing for something great. I knew that one day I too would cry for the Temple and whatever it represented. It took the journey of a lifetime to learn how to yearn for it.

My daughter, Estie, learnt faster than me. Immersed in a life of Torah, she has always known about the great Temple that we once had. She is no stranger to yearning for the glory of our past. So when her school announced the theme for this year, Yearning for Redemption, she was very excited. Art projects, wall paintings, lectures, songs, competitions, key rings—everything reflects this theme. One evening, a special event was organized in an auditorium to draw mothers into the yearning.

I noticed the Levites first. Dressed in a flow of white fabric, their slim waists bound with electric-blue sashes, their flutes, cymbals and violins poised motionless for the melody that once shattered hearts of stone, was now frozen. Then I saw the Kohanim, the tribe of priests. Their hands outstretched under prayer-shawls of cream fringed with black, they blessed the crowd silently. The scene urged me to remember the glorious Temple we once had, urging me to yearn for what we have lost.

At an unseen signal, the magic dissolved and the schoolgirls, seventh-graders, leapt down the bleachers to greet their mothers. Within a few moments, a choir of eighth-graders cloaked in electric-blue sequins rose onto the staggered stage. The lights dimmed as the melody unfurled. Centuries-old words of longing for redemption whispered their way round the hall. Soprano voices pierced the night, begging G‑d to comfort Jerusalem. Dreams of a Jerusalem of old then wove into notes of hope. Finally, a promise of future redemption soared forth and mingled with the sobs of the audience.

There were over a hundred girls on the stage, but I saw only one—my daughter Estie. When the songs were over, she ran to me and I hugged her tight. My cheek wet hers. My love for her soared through my veins. But it went further. I was tremendously proud and grateful to be here with her—bound together in yearning for something greater than ourselves. Because it hadn’t always been like that.

Fired and inspired, I took Estie to the Kotel a few days later. As the number 1 bus labored its through the neighborhood of Meah Shearim, I watched the three soldiers sitting across the aisle. One, possibly of Iraqi descent, was busy on his cell phone. His long limbs, missing the sap of confidence, pressed awkwardly into the seats around him. He shifted self-consciously, his knee brushing the old man opposite him. The old man, a large knitted kippah on his head, read ceaselessly from the book of Psalms held in his work-worn hands. Thick tufts of black hair curled out of his ears. Estie watched him praying. Or perhaps she was mesmerized by the hairs.

There were over a hundred girls on the stage, but I saw only one—my daughter EstieThe bus skirted the edge of East Jerusalem and passed Damascus Gate. I watched the elderly German couple further down the bus. Casually dressed. His square jaw was firm. His lips set. Her neat grey bob never moving despite the rocking of the bus. Round the old Ottoman walls of the Old City we drove, past Herod’s Gate. The cemetery on the Mount of Olives rose in the distance. Past it, to our left, lay the wide expanse of ancient Jerusalem, known as the City of David. The French teenager opposite me smiled. She hugged the rucksack on her knees tightly. The bus heaved to a halt outside Dung Gate, the entrance to the Wailing Wall’s plaza.

We all piled out: the soldiers with their guns, the tourists with their cameras, the girl with her rucksack, and Estie and I. All of us drawn to G‑d’s ruined House of Prayer. Drawn with longing for the day when we would hear the Kohanim, see the Leviites, watch the pilgrims. Because Isaiah promises us that “. . . My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (56:7).

We spent an hour at the Kotel. I tried to pray without interruption, but the medley of other people was a distraction that beckoned often. Who can resist gazing at the pure white of brides sweeping towards the Wall? The delicate twitter of French drew me. The rolling romance of Italian nudged into my consciousness. And then a collective outburst of the Nishmat prayer, recited by those who have been miraculously delivered from danger, thundered around us.

“Why are you saying Nishmat?” I asked one of the Ethiopian girls who was still holding a photocopy of the prayer in her hands when Estie and I prepared to leave the Kotel plaza.

“We’re from Haifa. We escaped the fire,” she answered. The fire. The worst fire in the history of Israel. The fire that claimed forty-two lives, consumed ten thousand acres of forest and sent seventeen thousand people racing from their homes. I nodded humbly, sure that our prayers had mingled with the prayers of all those gathered here and had risen to the Heavens on wings of tears.

Estie and I climbed the stone stairs to the Old City. In a cozy café, I treated her to chocolate rugelach and bought myself a cappuccino. She had remembered to bring the sky-blue folder that every girl in her school is filling as part of the year’s theme. Together we read through the pages she had delicately decorated with her glitter pens. Word by word, image by image, the great Temple, the Beit Hamikdash, appeared before us, rebuilt in its glory.

I realized that we were now part of the bronze picture on the living room wall of my childhoodWe saw the towering glory of white and gold. We read of the miracles that replaced the rules of nature here: the smoke from the pyre rose heavenwards in a perfectly straight pillar; any dirt that fell was immediately swallowed up into the ground. Although thousands of people came on pilgrimage during the festivals, there was never any crowding, and people had about two meters of space around them to bow in comfort. King Solomon had planted there trees that bore fruit of gold; when the wind blew, the fruit would fall and the Kohanim would gather the fruit to sell. The smell of incense filled the streets, and women didn’t need to perfume themselves.

As I watched Estie’s eyes sparkling brighter and brighter the more we read, I realized that we were now part of the bronze picture on the living-room wall of my childhood. I was a link in the chain that stretched from the Beit Hamikdash that had once stood to the Beit Hamikdash that would soon be rebuilt, and I was helping my daughter forge her own link. Together we were yearning for something greater than ourselves, for the days of Moshiach.