Sunday, 11 September 2011

Impressions of a Magical Shabbat

As readers of my last post know, this past Shabbat was a time of tremendous joy for my synagogue, Temple Kol Ami. After years of seeming futility, construction hassles, city bylaws, not so nice builders, money issues, aborted land deals, aborted project deals, aborted partnerships-frankly the list is longer than the space this blog allows-we were finally able to dedicated our new permanent home after years of wandering. With September weather fully cooperating, we marched as an entire community up the street with our Sifrei Torah taking the lead, to our not quite yet completed new sacred space. There was singing as is totally befitting our Kahal. There was laughter and joy, and when that mezuzah was affixed to the sanctuary door, there were many tears. I was struck by how many different impressions and emotions were tied up in this grand event. I thought that I would offer you just a few of mine from behind the guitar.

  • Walking up Atkinson Avenue, I was stunned by how many passersby rolled down their windows and started singing the Shabbat songs with us. One young woman was so engaged with her rendition of L'cha Dodi that she almost missed the light. They also took pictures, clapped hands, and honked horns of support. Sometimes living in the north Jewish ghetto has its perks.
  • I loved how the young and the young at heart all marched together holding hands, singing, laughing and all took a turn to carry a Torah.
  • I was terribly moved that our youth members were so thrilled to be asked to protect our Torah scrolls by carrying the chuppah. I realize that it is a total cliche, but these young people are our future and the dignity that they displayed as they proudly led us on the last few steps of our journey was a joy to behold.
  • As we gathered in the parking lot to sing Hiney Ma Tov-How good and how pleasant it is that brothers and sisters can sit here together-I watched with pure emotion as our oldest member paraded  up the pavement straight and tall. He was absolutely determined to be a part of this walk, so to watch his daughter drive in reverse up the street in perfect alliance with the rest of us so that he could be there, brought tears to my eyes.
  • We gathered ten song leaders from within our small congregation to play and lead the music. 10!!!! They played guitars, drums, tambourines, or simply clapped and sang. More were asked and simply could not make it, but sent lovely notes of regrets. Look at the musical culture we are creating at our synagogue.
  •  As the Sifrei Torah came into the Beit T'fillah, we asked all of the children to come forward to open the brand new ark. Dozens of them stood proudly on the bimah awaiting their moment. As a turned around from the congregation to see them, one little girl fresh off of her first summer at Camp George, was singing Hava Nashirah with such gusto that she was imploring all of her friends to sing with her. I went up to them all and conducted an impromptu junior choir on the bimah. It was pure magic.
These are just a few of my thoughts and I know that every single person who was in attendance has their own. Everybody had a different vantage point, was with different people, heard different stories. So I would like to open up this spot for you all to respond. In the comments section below, please leave your most memorable impressions from this past Shabbat. Use some economy of words and don't be afraid to post more than once. I will then compile them all into an article for next week's Voice. We will also cross-post this blog to our Facebook page so that more might view it. If you choose to remain anonymous that is perfectly fine, but it might be more interesting if we knew who you were. So get writing Kol Ami. We want to hear from you. 

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