Eli Kay, Hy”d, made aliya as a lone soldier in 2016 in order to serve in the IDF. After he completed his service, he volunteered with Hashomer Hachadash, an organization dedicated to safeguarding farmland in Israel, and he studied to be a tour guide.
This past August, Eli started working with us as a guide at the Western Wall Plaza.
He greeted everyone with a smile, with love and joy, and with a true desire to connect people to the Western Wall. His good cheer, his vision, and the delight he took in his job were contagious. He worked with us for only a few months but immediately became a source of inspiration, a symbol of someone wanting to advance, develop, and grow.
Sometimes, Eli would share his own life story with visitors to the Kotel. It was incredible to witness how he succeeded in touching people, speaking to them about the heart of Jerusalem, connecting them to the city’s essence, beauty, and charm.
Eli dreamed of being part of the Kotel. With devotion, sacrifice, and perseverance, he was able to make that dream come true. When he came to Jerusalem, he was an emissary for his family abroad and placed notes for them between the Kotel stones. Later, his family followed him to Israel.
As a lone soldier and a new immigrant, life was not without its challenges. But despite them, Eli was able to stay positive and patient – traits we saw in him here at the Kotel.
To our profound sorrow, Eli’s dream was cut short. But the story of Jerusalem continues to be written with Eli being an inseparable part of it – going from the IDF to Hashomer Hachadash to the Kotel. In memory and in honor of Eli, we will learn to appreciate the fact that we can be standing in this place, the fulfilment a generations-old vision.
When the Temple stood, mourners would enter through the exit gates so that people could stop and console them, saying, “May He Who dwells in this house console you.”
During a week like this, when we all need consolation, we take comfort in our connection and love of Jerusalem, and we follow in Eli’s footsteps.