- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On March 2, 2018
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
A few years ago, I attended a Shabbat service in Jerusalem. The building sat on the hill right outside the Old City. Outside the windows, across the valley, the ancient walls of the ancient city filled our view. Beyond the wall, where we couldn’t see, was the place where THE Temple stood, first built by Solomon and destroyed by the Babylonians, and rebuilt centuries later but destroyed by the Romans.
Jews face that space where the Temple stood. People still make pilgrimages to the remaining structure that held up the foundation. The pictures show that structure with politicians, diplomats, Bar Mitzvah boys, and many individuals leaning against it, leaving prayer notes of the longings of their hearts. On the men’s side, there may be an organized gathering for a celebration or one of the daily services. On the women’s side where it is forbidden to have similar congregating—though Women of the Wall defy it—each individual sits or stands and offers her own personal prayers.
On that morning as we faced the Wall behind the Old City walls, I couldn’t help but reflect on how close I was to that sacred space. The only item that blocked our view was the ark with the Torah inside. I wondered whether we needed the ark at all since the idea is to face where the Temple stood in the first place.
Today, it is different. As you read this Shabbat Awakenings, seventeen members of our community will have already begun Shabbat in Jerusalem, but not just anywhere or across a valley overlooking the wall. This time, we will engage in what I feel is an historic moment for most of us. We will pray, men and women together, at the designated spot along the Western Wall called Azarat Israel. This pluralistic section of the Kotel will allow us to stand, pray, and sing together as a group. Though we do this all the time in our synagogue, the ability to have an egalitarian sacred space has not been a guarantee in Jerusalem. Now it is.
In the years when Jews could not return to Jerusalem, they invoked the words of the Psalmists:
How can we sing of song of the Eternal on foreign soil?
If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.
Let my tongue stick to my palate if I forget you,
If I do not keep Jerusalem in my memory
Even at my most happy moments. (137: 4-6)
We return on this trip to a sacred site, allowed to pray as we do, at the heart of Jerusalem. We share our experience with you and bring your prayers and hopes with us as we stand, sing, and pray right next to this ancient significant site for Shabbat.
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:00 p.m. We are thrilled to welcome back Cantor Einhorn from his Sabbatical. Live stream HERE. Torah study begins at 9:00 a.m. with a short service followed by a lively discussion.
Connect with me HERE, even while I am in Israel!