Post by Melissa
This past week, I had the opportunity to house-sit for a close friend who lives in a different neighborhood than D and me. Within just a few miles of her house are synagogues of every denomination, as well as the Federation, JCC, kosher restaurants, mikvah, and nice parks. Basically, everything I could want out of life. Over the course of this week, and especially Shabbat I found myself falling in love time and again.
The first time was early in the week when I learned just how lovely it is to walk to work every day. I was living about a mile and a half from my office, and even on the bitter cold mornings it was a lively walk and it really jump-started my day. I fell in love with walking to work.
A few days later there was a panel discussion I was interested in hearing. It featured 6 local Rabbi’s speaking about a semi-controversial topic of inclusion (which I do not want to get into in this post) which was really interesting to me. Being in this other neighborhood in the evening, I would normally not have been able to attend, however since I was house-sitting I could. It was so wonderful to meet a friend and walk to and from the event together. The same day I learned that a rabbi I admire would be speaking about his work at Seudah Shlishit that Shabbat. Luckily, I was already up on the right side of town so I was able to go! It was way too short of notice for me to have made plans to be here, but since I already was – I was good to go. I fell in love with being able to go to (read: walk to) dynamic events.
On Shabbat we had the opportunity to daven (pray) with two different Orthodox minyanim (prayer groups). Friday night services were dynamic. They were led by a friend of ours* who has a beautiful voice and there was such kavanah (spirit) throughout the entire room. From my side of the mechitza, I felt enveloped in the energy of the moment. This was only more intense with the fuller room on Shabbat morning as I could hear the men’s voices drift over the partition. I fell in love with the mechitza. Though what I really fell in love with at that minyan was how strictly everyone takes the no talking policy and how focused they are on their own davening. The kids step outside to talk and women will simply exchange a quiet hello as they come in and go to the back of the room to begin their own davening.
We also had the opportunity to have wonderful meals and walks and talks with wonderful people. While walking between our various friends places, we also got to say Shabbat Shalom to people we didn’t know who were also out and about, walking through the neighborhood. There is just such a dynamic Shabbat observant community there, it was phenomenal. Everyone is out and about, walking to and fro, and enjoying the holy day of rest with whomever they may encounter. I fell in love with the community.
I know this whole post sounds so idyllic, but coming from a great but small community which is very insular, it was a wonderful change. I left the house yesterday, and while it was nice to get home and sleep in my own bed without a wandering dog – I already miss it and am looking forward to the next time I get to spend time in the community.
*A Yid of No Despair in the World (so good to see you A!)