Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans about 1900 years ago, either, as the popular belief is, in order to keep out the barbarians (in which case it was possibly built too far north) or as a sign of the power of Rome. Stretching from coast to coast, across the country, from near Newcastle in the east, past Carlisle in the west, the wall, even in its incomplete state is an impressive sight.
My husband and I spent Shabbos in Gateshead last week, and took advantage of being “on holiday” to have an amazing walk near Hadrian’s Wall on Friday. Standing next to the wall and surveying the countryside, which is bleak but beautiful, it was easy to imagine the Roman soldiers viewing a posting there as a trip to the end of the world. While we were enjoying the “bracing” weather and the scenery, as well as each other’s company, a text arrived from our daughters’ school, offering our oldest daughter the opportunity to help at a camp in Odessa in the summer.
We couldn’t help remarking on the irony that while we were standing next to the ruins of one empire which sought to crush the Jews, our daughter was being invited to fan the flames of Yiddishkeit in the heart of another fallen empire which sought to crush the Jews. And all this was happening a just few miles from one of the Torah powerhouses of the world!