Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Minyan Moments

היום ארבעה ימים בעמר
Today is four days of the omer
נצח שבחסד
A day of perseverance in a week of loving kindness

At this morning's minyan, the gathering for prayers, we had one of those "it takes a village" moments. There was no clergy; we made the necessary 10 and a couple more, with a group of core regulars. Because it is one of the intermediate days of Pesach, there are more rituals than a normal Wednesday morning. We sang Hallel, read Torah from two different scrolls, and had a musaf, additional liturgy that is added on these days. There were lots of roles to be filled, and everyone stepped up to make everything work. And as I was not as prepared to chant Torah as I could have been, it was great to know I did not have to read alone, being gently corrected when I mangled the words or started to run through the end of a verse.

At these times, I am reminded that our rituals are meant to be communal, not hierarchical. Our rabbis are our teachers, but each of us has the ability to lead. This is one of the strengths of Judaism, and one of the reasons why we have survived for so many centuries.

And so, on this day of perseverance in loving kindness, I bring you another minyan moment from 2010 when we were able to support those in our community.

At Beth Sholom, we ask anyone who comes to minyan to commemorate a yarhzeit--an anniversary of the passing of a loved one--if they would like to say a few words about the person they are remembering. It adds an extra level to the experience when the El Malai prayer is chanted--for the survivor sharing the memory and for those of us standing in support. At that moment, we all hold that person in our heart.

This morning, my friend Katherine shared the connection she felt between working with her son on the chicken coops they're building and the time her dad spent working with her on the Future Farmer of America projects of her youth. It was one way she could pass the love her father had for her on to her children. לדור ודור – L'dor v'dor - from generation to generation.

Another woman, Penny, was there to commemorate the yarhzeit of her husband. She told us they met in USY--the national youth organization of the Conservative Movement. They had 17 years together, were married for 11 years, and this was the 25th anniversary of his death. She shared this knowing we would understand the connections to her youth, to her Judaism. We could share the pain of her loss, no matter how long ago.

In these moments, as I place my hand on each shoulder and chant those ancient words, I feel humbled in the presence of enduring love and am honored to share in the stream of their lives.

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