Redeemed by Tzion
Filmed By: KotelTV- Moshe and Kochava Rozenbaum
Over a year and a half ago, before I could know how full my recovery from chronic illness would be, I wrote a piece for my personal blog talking about how painful it had been for me to be practically housebound, and how I longed to return to Jerusalem. I wrote down my daydream: what it would be like to walk through the Old City, to see the wall, to introduce my daughter to the sacred space of the Kotel. At that moment, it was a reverie- a far-off hope, a prayer.
This past week I returned from my first trip to Israel in over 10 years. I had finally made that pilgrimage with my daughter in tow- and I decided I wanted to freeze that moment for myself and reconstruct daydream as memory. A record that God is the ultimate healer, and can redeem all of us for a second chance at living.
I now share this precious memory with you, in a medium, I have never done before, but a reflection of that miraculous moment in my life. I offer it with gratitude to Kochava and Moshe Rozenbaum of Kotel TV – Mitzvah Photographer for exactly capturing what lived in my head for many years, and creating such a gift for me, to Zusha for allowing me to use their beautiful song, “Shefa” that felt like a little piece of my soul, and to HKBH for allowing me to finally, visit Him in His space.
Redeemed by Tzion
They were hazy days
When I was lost in the slumber of the sick
Confined and glazed over with dreams
Of other spaces that I loved more
Glossy sheets of stone
Made smooth by the pilgrimage of the faithful
I followed those steps in my mind
Praying to be reunited with that ancient glow
It would be waiting for me, golden and sweet
Her walls silken by centuries of soft cheeks
Strengthened by generations of tears
I would be welcomed home
After my personal exile of illness
She would be gleaming and golden
And I, swollen with gratitude
After God visiting me in my space
I would be finally free to visit him in his.
I could introduce my daughter
to this new level of the divine
Whispering to her among the women
Swaying, wrapped in reverence
I’d explain how in this space of transcendence
She’d traverse history and the immediacy of our future
How it was laced into her destiny, inheritance, and hope
We would stand together in that devotion
And marvel at the redemption that awaits you
When you finally arrive back home.
Shira Lankin Sheps grew up in New Jersey and went to Stern College for women. After graduating from Hunter College School of Social Work with her MSW in clinical social work, she worked in the clinical field, in marketing and photojournalism.
She decided to start The Layers Project to help break down stigma and promote healing within our Jewish community.
She feels strongly about presenting women, who are so often shown as shallow characters or fully removed from Jewish media spaces, as three-dimensional individuals whose lives are full and rich with resilience.
Shira made aliyah with her family two years ago to Jerusalem.
Headshot taken by Tzipora Lifchitz.