I went to Temple services for Eve (Erev) of Rosh Hashanah. The first time since I was a kid, when I went with my father to the big Temple on Fifth Avenue, NYC. Then, I remember sitting next to him in wonder and awe, watching, listening as the men in their blue and white prayer shawls, Tallits, black suits, beards, peyes, swayed their bodies back and forth reciting prayers in Hebrew. Even as a child, the solemnity of the prayers pervaded my soul. And too I felt special, cause for some reason, my father took me, the youngest, not my two older sisters.
I've been to other Jewish services, mostly Passovers or Sukkot, in Mendocino County where the "Temple" was some one's home, or the rough beginnings of a Jewish community center lovingly carved out of a smallish, oldish 1950's Redwood Valley home. Totally informal, jeans, no ties, northern California hippie casual where the beards on the men were not accompanied by peyes and the women floated with home prepared cakes and breads in long skirts and slacks.
Wednesday night was the first time since I was a kid to experience a Real Temple, with several hundred members, all dressed up, suits, nice dresses, makeup, lipstick, all reciting prayers, singing, swaying in tune with the men AND women on the alter, near the Ark.
And it felt like I was back home. Like coming home.
Tears began early on and continued streaming down my face for most of the two hours.
What I loved the most was the exquisite beauty of the prayers. The exquisite sentiment expressed in each prayer, loving, praising, recognizing, honoring The Unknowable, The Eternal One, Adonai, Shekinah.
It's just lovely to hear and to read:
"Love God with all the power of your heart,
with its yearnings, its passions,
with all you hold dear in life
and with the fullness of what the world gives you.
Wrap these words around your deeds as a holy garment
and let them shape our home into a dwelling place of peace.
Whereever you go scatter the words like seeds;
let them be drops of water on the thirsty earth.
Seal these words upon your heart
that their sacredness may permeate your being,
coursing through your veins,
melting body into soul."
Written by: Rabbi Rami Shapiro, adapted by Ellen Steinbaum
I decided to attend this year's services after much deliberation. I wanted to experience what a sacred gathering of Jews would be like. Experience it again in my life, because I have certainly felt the Wonder and Awe of Jews praying together before. In truth, I am addicted to the Wonder and Awe of groups praying, meditating, walking a labryinth, singing, together, for the Love of The Eternal, The Divine, The All, The Unknowable.
I have felt this in not all, but certainly many groups throughout the years, Jews, Sikhs, Satsang, Buddhists, and Christians.
I wanted to feel it again. Feel the GROUP CURRENT, JUICE. There is a profoundness, an overwhelming joy and wonder, soul shaking awe and communion of my soul with this Force of Love, and it becomes powerfully magnified when I can share this with others.
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