Saturday, September 22, 2007

Finding Awe

Every year during the High Holy Days, there is a moment when you sense God’s presence more than at other times. After services today, another choir member and I admitted to the same exact "God" moment, as she so aptly called it.

Before the Torah reading, it is the custom to invite two children to open the doors to the “ark”, the place where the Torahs are housed. At that time in the service, we watched as twins who are about 10 years old and their father approached. One of the girls was in a very small wheel chair, as she suffers from cerebral palsy. The other girl wore sparkly shoes with little grown-up heels. Before the steps leading to the ark, the father picked the girl up out of the wheel chair and helped her walk very slowly up to the ark to do her job, while her sister looked on and encouraged her. You could easily feel all 1200 congregants cheering her ahead. After the Torah was removed and sent on its procession through the congregation, the father picked the girl up so she could whisper something in our rabbi Danny’s ear. He smiled and so did she. By this time the tears were running down my cheeks and my friend Jan was crying too. Seeing what obstacles this young girl has in her life made me think about how very lucky we are to have two children with no disabling conditions.

I especially enjoy the Yom Kippur afternoon services, when we come back to Temple Micah’s building, where the reduced congregation once again fits. It’s sort of like going home to familiar territory. As many people are fasting, the continuous services help the time pass by. One of the most beautiful parts of the afternoon is the Yizkor service, which commemorates those who have died. Meryl sang the same song she sings every year (which includes words from the mourners' kaddish) that always brings a lump to my throat:

***************************************************
TRIBUTE

I know you were not a saint
because no mortal one can be.
But you were the kind of person
I have tried so hard to be.
And you said, “It does not matter
what you earn or where you live
for we all will be remembered
by the way that we would give.”
And you always were a giver.
You gave with all your heart.
But it pained you so to take
because you loved the giving part.
So I give to you these thoughts today
in sad memorium:
That my life has been much richer
because it’s you that I’ve learned from.

Yidgadal v’yitkadash
Sh’mey sh’mey rabah.
Sanctified and hallowed is
God’s kingdom over us all.
Oseh shalom bim’romav
Hu ya’seh ya’seh shalom
Aleinu v’al kol Yisrael
V’imru amen.

May God’s great name
be hallowed and acclaimed
for now and ever more.
Y’hey sh’mey rabah
M’varach l’olam
Ul’olmay olmayah.

So I give to you these thoughts today
in sad memorium:
That my life has been much richer
because it’s you that I’ve learned from.
***************************************************

My thoughts turned toward my parents and I felt sad they couldn’t be part of this scene, even though Judaism was not their religion.

After these moments of reflection on those that have gone before us, we ended our day of prayers with a havdalah service, which found us linking arms and swaying in a sea of bodies as we sang the songs that would mark the end of the High Holy Days 5768 and the 24-hour fast which many people observed.

My head is still pounding from caffeine deprivation, but I feel satiated with old songs and new thoughts to ponder. The Days of Awe are finished for another year.

4 Comments:

Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Happy new year! What a beautiful post.

Was the "god moment" when the girl whispered in Danny's ear?

8:37 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- The "God" moment was when she opened the door to the ark to reveal all the Torahs in their white holiday covers with their gleaming ornaments. There was a white light that was almost blinding, even through tears!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I am always amazed at how much similarity there is between Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Just from a materials point of view, those artefacts would not be out of place in a Catholic Church. Granted, there would be a cross instead of the Star of David, but the colours, the decorations, the material, all the same.

I know that God moment too, although, I always find it in smaller congregations when you have only the "core" faithful. And yes, it is blinding.

Curious as to why you write out God, when many other Jews will write G-d (and I know this is to avoid risk of defacing the name of God)

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I just came across this post via google, looking for that song, just hours before the start of Yom Kippur 5775. What a lovely story. I attend a bunch of Temple Micah's High Holy Day Services over the past decade or so, although I guess I wasn't there for that one. With two kids under the age of three, I won't be able to attend this year, but I will be thinking of this story, and this song. Shanah tovah!

10:34 AM  

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