Many years ago, I was a schoolteacher in Connecticut, teaching second grade in a Jewish school. For the arrival of the Independence Day of Israel in May, I asked my students to write birthday wishes to the country of Israel, which we would send to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is one of the original structures of the Holy Temple that survived the destruction of the Temple by the Roman Empire in 70 ACE. It has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for many years, and I was privileged to visit there many times in my life and feel the essence of the history that vibrates through me.
It is a well-known Jewish custom to visit the Western Wall and communicate your inner desires, even placing a wish-note through the cracks in the wall, knowing that you are in the presence of God, who listens to your prayers and makes your dreams come true.
And so I suggested to my students that they write a birthday wish for the country of Israel. I encouraged them to write a private wish as well, and then I informed them about the unusual method of delivery we would use.
After they finished writing their wishes, we took a soda bottle and put all the notes inside and sealed the bottle with clear waterproof tape. I announced that this bottle would be sent via the Atlantic Ocean to its intended destination. Then we wrote a message on the bottle to its finder, stating who we were and where the bottle should go: the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Though the kids didn’t immediately agree that it was a good plan, they got excited about the unusual idea that their crazy teacher suggested. The kids expressed a lot of doubt: How would the bottle get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea? What happens if it were opened and the notes were destroyed? And so on. I was surprised to learn that kids, who are naturally inclined to believe in magic, expressed so much doubt. I was able to teach them to trust and believe in the power of magic. “God is everywhere, and if you have faith, it will arrive at its final destination,” I said, encouraging them to trust the process, and more importantly, have fun.
The last day of school, just three months after we set the bottle free, I got a call in the school office. On the line was an older gentleman from a retirement home in Long Island who had found the bottle on a visit to the beach, and he was kind enough to call the school and ask for a specific address he could mail this bottle to. He informed us that he was mailing it to Israel and the bottle would be on its way to its final destination. I was so happy to go back to my classroom and tell my students the good news.
I didn’t know back then then that I was teaching a spiritual lesson and that I would continue to inspire people to believe in magic one day. Yet the excitement of creating this project and the love and the trust I shared with my students allowed me to witness this miracle and be open to accept it. Every time that I lose the sense of wonder, I remember this event, and it puts a smile on my face and makes me a believer all over again.
I believe in magic; do you?
“If you will it, it is not a dream.” Theodor Herzl, Father of Modern Political Zionism