Shabbat in Jerusalem

Shabbat is my favorite time to be in Jerusalem. I love being in the city because for me, my connection to Israel is first and foremost spiritual. I support the State of Israel and have since I was in elementary school, but I'm not into the politics. Though certain policies Israel's government and political parties often disturb me, they don't affect my connection and attachment to the land. My Zionism transcends current events - it is based on history and the Bible. It moves me to know that I often walk in the footsteps of my Biblical ancestors. I walk the streets of Jerusalem and I can visualize Abraham and Sarah, King David, and countless pilgrims over the centuries walking in the same places. To me nothing can be more exciting and meaningful.

Being in Jerusalem also heightens the usual Jewish rituals that I do so that shabbat becomes extra special. This shabbat I had three different religious experiences. I started on Friday evening at one of my favorite shuls - Shira Chadasha. Though I am not Orthodox by temperament I compromise and daven there because of the singing. There are always more women than men in attendance, and a woman almost always leads the spirited singing of the Kabbalat Shabbat service. We do the same melodies in our shul but it sounds much different when 200 people participate!

This morning I went with my colleague and friend Rabbi Steve Moskowitz to the shul where his cousin is the cantor - Mevakshei Derech. It's a member of the Reform Movement but is really Reconstructionist. The service was very similar to ours and it was special today because a girl with Asperger's became Bat Mitzvah. It was very nice to see how inclusive the shul was.

And finally I walked with a few rabbi friends to the Old City and to the Kotel. We joined one of the on-going minyanim (prayer groups) for a quick (15 minutes!) minchah (afternoon service). Again I do this not because I feel so comfortable in a very Orthodox environment, (I don't) but because of the meaning the Kotel, and more so that Temple mount area, has for me. That history is valuable to me, not the Orthodox environment.

I share all this with you because spirituality can be found in a variety of ways and in a variety of places, even when we might least expect it. I find meaning in our own Shaare Tefila service of course, but I can also find it in a liberal Orthodox, a Reconstructionist, and even a brief(!!) ultra-Orthodox environment. It all depends where you are, who you are with, and what is happening in the service. If we open our eyes and open our souls we can attain spiritual heights!


  1. I am glad that you are having a great time in Israel but it concerns me that you compromise and go to an Orthodox shul but you do not compromise when going to a Reform or Reconstructionist shul. Although you do end on a nice note, I think that it is imnportant that we all strive to not seem negative when talking about all the different religious sects and levels of observances no matter what religion. Giving a negative denotation only serves to further divide all religions not just our own. It is ok to disagree but it should be done in a positive and respectful manner. I feel that when people compromise in this way it is done so with a negative and denotative manner.

    Just my 2 cents
    oh and by the way Eyton looks great! :)


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