Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Magical Friday Night

I had been invited for months know to Rabbi Ruth and Michael Kagan's monthly Interfaith potluck dinner and Shabbat services on Friday night. This week I resolved to finally get going. There was so much traffic at the checkpoint into Jerusalem I left especially early and got there 1/2 hour early - quiche in hand. On the way I met a group of people dressed in white monks clothing and nuns in white. Of course, they were going to the Kagans - where else? I joined up with them and introduced myself. Some were French, some were Mexican. All were quite young and lived at the Emmaus Monastary near Latrun. They were part of the Beatitude order, if I understood that correctly. We prepared to light Shabbat candles and the main candle was passed from person to person until everyone lit - nuns and monks included, which I thought was beautiful and amusing at the same time.

Shabbat prayers began and our small group grew to over 50 people. We chanted, we sang, we prayed and even the nun next to me stood praying the Silent Prayer from an Artscroll prayerbook as if she had done this all her life. This is the month of Elul and God is not hiding from us this month. He really hears us and we were instructed to pray - not only for ourselves but for the others as well, such as the people from Louisiana, because the government, as we see, doesn't always get the job done, which is where people's prayers can finish the job. It all seemed to make sense.

We all sat around for the meal, which really felt abundant - someone even made sushi which was gobbled up by all the small kids. I felt like telling them - Hey! kids aren't supposed to like that stuff -leave it all for me! I let them take their 3 pieces while I took 2.

There were people I knew from my peace work and while stories were being shared of personal spiritual experiences interspersed with the nuns and monks singing Psalms in French accompanied by violin and acoustic guitar. It was so beautiful, I didn't want the evening to end. It actually didn't - because by 10:30 pm it was still going strong but my eyes weren't. I left the crowd without saying bye to anyone and crept out the door walking through Jerusalem's streets, seeing and feeling both the holiness of the Sabbath and the beauty of the secular enjoying themselves in Jerusalem's busy pubs, glasses tinkering away....

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