Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Didn't Make it to Synagogue

I love being in the synagogue and hearing the voices raised in song and prayer. I do. I've had some problems with the politics involved in some places and before we moved to Israel, we lived so far away that getting there with young children was an ordeal.

Since we moved to Maale Adumim, we've been blessed to have found a community, lost a community, and found a modified version of the first one again. When we first came, we lived about halfway between two services. We chose one and loved it.

It grew to capacity and still I loved it. Then it moved to bigger accommodations and the ugliness of politics raised its head. We left, hurt and disillusioned more by the actions of the community and the board than any specific thing that any individual did. In fact, though it was one particularly ugly incident that drove us away initially, it was ultimately the general ugliness of dealing with the emerging "powers" there that made us surrender and believe we had to find another place.

Months later, though we had attended other synagogues, we didn't really feel that we had recaptured what we had loved and lost. We drifted for a while, helped as much as possible by a few friends who reached out to us. And then, in a lesson I will carry all my life, the family initially responsible for our leaving reached out to us and mostly with their initiative, but with our help as well, we re-founded the initial synagogue in the same place it had been before we moved to the larger space. That other service continues, but is of no interest to me.

I have found song and prayer again, in a place where tshuva (repentance is the rough translation, but it is so much more) and acceptance abounds.

So Friday night, I went with my husband to the Friday night services. They are, perhaps, the single most beautiful prayers we have in Judaism, and they are often the realm of the young and the men. Women are exhausted from preparations in the home, have young children to deal with, guests that might be coming over and so, though I have always loved these prayers especially, I rarely get there.

Friday morning, I posted on Facebook a note, part joke, part serious. For the first time in perhaps 20+ years, we were home alone...just me and my husband and so with no guests coming over, no young children at home, and everything ready, we went together. It was everything I remembered; everything I loved.

We walked home slowly together, holding hands and talking. What I love about the Sabbath is the ability not to rush too much...and that's what we did - or didn't do. We didn't rush. We had a nice dinner together, talked...nice.

In the morning, we set out together to walk to the synagogue...and then it happened. We met the first of our neighbors, one that I had not seen in a while. She's had many changes in her life and as we spoke, Lazer realized it was getting late and excused himself to continue to the synagogue while I had a chance to visit a bit.

I hadn't seen her for any length of time and so I told her about my accident that happened just over a year ago. "Paula, you are so blessed."

Yes, I told her; that is what I felt when I got out of what was really a brand new car and saw that while it was totaled and would never drive again, I was fine.

A short time later, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom, and I continued on the way. Within minutes, I met another friend and her daughters. She is originally from Holland and we spoke of my recent visit, her family there. They don't understand, she said. Their children can't even go to university there because of the anti-Semitism and so are going to the States. Ridiculous, she said, when they could come to Israel and go to university for free!

A short time later, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom, and I continued on my way. I met another friend who was walking with her three-year-old. We are on a committee together and spoke of general issues related to the neighborhood and the group and soon, another friend walked past.

She was headed up hill and whenever I see her, I have such an urge to give her a hug. When her husband first met her, he called us up and asked if he could bring her for dinner. We were so honored and fell in love with her immediately. She's amazing...and so we bid my other friend and her three-year-old a Shabbat Shalom, and together, we walked up the hill together.

At the bottom of the steps to my re-established synagogue, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom...and I went inside, a bit embarrassed at how late I was but totally thrilled and at peace. This is what the Sabbath is about in Israel - sunshine, walking in our holy land, meeting friends, time with your husband. There are moments in life when you really think things can't get better.

Of course, there are always things that are wrong...some very wrong...some agonizingly wrong...but there are moments when you will be okay...

Shortly after I walked in...the Kohanim, members of the tribe of the Holy Priest dating back thousands of years, took their place in the front of the synagogue. Covered in their prayer shawls, they blessed our community.

May G‑d bless you and guard you.
May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you.
May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.

Technically, I didn't really make it to the synagogue for more than a few minutes but in many ways, just living here in Israel is like being in God's world, God's house, every minute.

I was blessed this Shabbat with time alone with my husband, with friends every short distance. I was blessed with light and sunshine.

Friday morning I got to hold my new grandson; Friday afternoon I got to speak to my granddaughter who is visiting her other grandparents. Friday night I got to sing in prayers that lifted to the heavens and then got to walk home, hand in hand, with the man I have loved for more than half my life. Saturday, Shabbat, I got to walk this land in light and sun, visit with friends...

Sometimes, your heart swells just knowing you are in the right place, the right time, with the right people. Blessed...I feel so blessed.

1 comment:

Netivotgirl said...

Your posts make my heart sing! You express my thoughts and feelings in a way I never would be able to. What would I do without you dear Paula? Kudos for another glorious post!!!

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