I know I owe many posts about many topics and answering many questions, but right now, this just had to be said first. As we overcome the many obstacles of moving to a new country, the owed posts will slowly but surely make their appearances on both blogs.
Over the years, I have heard many people wax poetic about the great Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem. People told me all sorts of amazing things about it which intrigued me and had me looking forward to experiencing it. So much so, that with two Shabbatot behind us in Jerusalem, it is the only place we have gone to services.
There is nothing anyone could have said to truly prepare us for the experience of being in such an amazing space.
Shira Hadasha, which translates to “New Song,” lives up to its name, and more.
As I prayed on Friday night, I continually found myself in complete and utter awe that such a place could exist. It felt to me like we had finally found a place which fit us. A place in which we were truly comfortable. Here we were, in a mechitza minyan where an educated and rational group of people had found the balance between women’s inclusion, feminism, and halacha. A woman was leading Kabbalat Shabbat, and then a man led Ma’ariv. On Shabbat morning a woman led Psukei and the Torah service and a man led Shacharit and Musaf. Aliyot and leyning were divided between men and women. The amud and mechitza are right in the middle of the room with a gabbai on each side. The mechitza is a sheer-ish curtain which is pulled back at the appropriate times for all to be able to see (i.e. during the d’var torah and announcements), but people are steadfast about keeping it closed during services.
Beyond the logistics, it is filled with beauty. There is a warmth which radiates from the entire room and songs are filled with avodat Ha’shem. Over these two Shabbatot we have been present for the celebration of a Bat Mitzvah, aufruf, and baby naming. Each time the community sang and wrapped up the families in so much love, that I (a complete outsider) was brought to tears. The joy in the room for each family was truly palpable.
I wish there were more places with such a simultaneously grounded and uplifting service. Both D and I hope and pray that minyanim like this will continue to grow worldwide and will have a communal place in the future of Jewish religious life.
While it is a bit of a walk for us to attend (and truly up hill both ways), we intend to regularly attend services at Shira Hadasha on Shabbat mornings and would love to introduce any of our friends to it as well. Even if it is not what you would normally seek out, I think it would be hard not to have an appreciation for the unique (and extremely hamish) community.
(This post is cross-posted to our family blog. For more updates about life in Israel, subscribe there too.)