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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The View From the Top

I have no problems sitting in the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Gallery, in my synagogue.  One of the reasons is that I have the best seat in the house.  I'm front row and center.  It's not my original seat.  When we built our shul, I had my husband buy me the seat most similar to the one I always chose in the temporary structure* we used to pray in.  I'd always take the third row, furthest in, by the wall, so I could lean against the wall when tired of standing.  I never considered myself of the "elite" to sit any closer to the front.  And I didn't want to sit too far to the back.  I was very happy in my "corner" of sorts praying to G-d.

After a few minor renovations, the removal of the door to the stairs and a small addition I began suffering from the "breeze," aka draft that blew in straight to my place to my legs and side.  Nobody liked to sit next to me, which would have protected me, because of the freezing wind.  I would ask women closest to the door to please keep it closed, but others complained that there was no air.  Yes, it was very unpleasant.  Finally, the person who was chairman of the shul committee offered me a different seat.  One of the women did not like sitting in the front row.  She didn't care about the draft, so we switched.

I love watching what goes on downstairs.  All Simchat Torah I wished it had been permitted to photograph, the scenes were so moving.  Paula, A Soldier's Mother writes something very similar to what I had been thinking.

I consider myself so privileged to be part of an extraordinarily wonderful community, congregation, neighborhood.  I watched the children and the elderly and all those in between as they prayed and danced and helped each other.  We now have ramp access to the synagogue including a second Ezrat Nashim, so that those who can't climb stairs can still fully participate.

This Simchat Torah, the second aka breakaway, chassidic, "younger" or whatever you want to call it minyan prayed with us instead of in the miklat/shelter they usually use.  We now have enough room, and the kids really enjoyed all being together.  They aren't involved in their parents' decisions.  It's all one neighborhood.  Also, some neighbors who usually go to the Aidot Mizrach (North African) shul dovened with us, since we're closer to their house.  I also saw some neighbors who usually go down the hill to the main shul prayed with us.

Shiloh has a large number of synagogues, which is nice.  Choice is good, as long as it's done in good spirit.  We have Ashkenaz, Israeli United, Aidot Mizrach and Yemenite.  And when the hesder yeshiva is in session with students, they have a couple of minyanim, too.  There are also a couple of very early ones which usually finish in a short time.  Some young fathers go there and then babysit so their wives can then pray in the later shuls.

Simchat Torah night in Shiloh the tradition is to meet up, all the shuls, in a central spot and dance together with the Sifrei Torah.

We're in Shiloh for thirty-one years, plus a bit, so I really know most of my neighbors.  Many of today's children and children of the children who once lived and played here.  And the very elderly were once active parents and grandparents.  We've all gotten older, and some of us are sadly remembered on the dedication plaques decorating the walls of the shul's additions.  Newer families fit right in seamlessly.

Baruch HaShem!  Thank G-d for my hometown Shiloh!!!

*a rickety cardboard prefab, aka caravan


rutimizrachi said...

Lovely snapshot, Batya! I also enjoy the view from the balcony, though I haven't made a makom for myself at shul here in Israel, and prefer to daven at "Beit Ruti."

I do love the way communities here can choose to "come together." I'll never forget the many nusachim at Avnei Eitan, the first time I ever experienced such closeness of so many different kinds of Jews.

Batya said...

Ruti, I love the "being together" when praying. We should have you over in Shiloh for a Shabbat.