The Dung Gate

The Dung Gate, which provides the best access to the Western Wall, is one of the eight portals into the walled Old City of Jerusalem. When I visited this ancient site, I found a group of revelers celebrating a Bar Mitzvah.

A Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony marks the coming of age of Jewish adolescents. Boys (Bar) must be 13 years old, girls (Bat) may participate at 12. The ritual is an initiation into Jewish adulthood, a welcoming of the individual into the observation of religious precepts and a new world of public worship.

In the Old City, public Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebrations may only take place on Mondays or Thursdays. I could not find a reference explaining why those two days of the week were selected and only those two. I suppose it is a matter of tradition. Sometimes rituals are carried out according to custom, almost out of convenience for those who are familiar with the rules. Other times such rituals follow a pattern. But perhaps there is a deeper, concealed meaning to the why of the when that is not shared openly with the wider, non-Jewish public.

At the celebration following the ceremony, music made with special historical drums and pipes filled the air. Any celebration is contagious, and this one was no exception. Soon, laughter filled the air, occupying the vacant space with the joy of celebration.