Saturday, September 22, 2007

Conversations with God

I had a lot of things to contemplate about this Yom Kippur morning. From silly thoughts that the word menopause is really "men oppose" to more serious thoughts as the day dragged on about how very few people in the Holy Land were eating today being that Ramadan and Yom Kippur fall on the same day today. It seemed really special to me that we were doing the same thing - suffering (and praying of course)- together with our Moslem cousins.

My close friend made aliyah recently and as I remember she was always the one who ran to synagogue every Sabbath from the moment services began at 7:30 am until 12:30 pm. I asked her about Rosh Hashana - the first New Year in the Holy Land for her. She told me she could hardly focus in synagogue this year. Another friend told me the same thing - she hardly went to synagogue this New Year.

Why?

These people believe in God, and are actually Orthodox Jews. What's goin' on here? I mean it's been a few years since I've had this feeling that many formal synagogues are awful - routine, boring, the congregants usually running through the service like speed praying/reading. And that's what led me on a search for alternative prayer sessions, which led me to both the Reform Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem and the monthly Jewish renewal services led by Rabbi Ruth Kagan. Both of these places uplift my soul and this wandering Jew has found her niche there. But I had no idea others were slowly feeling this way too.

I'm wondering whether landing in Israel makes your old spirit disappear and a new spirit of sorts comes to take hold of you.

I took the friend who just moved here to an interfaith evening at Eliyahu McLean's place to celebrate Ramadan and Yom Kippur Thursday evening. A sufi Sheikh from Nazareth spoke to us about Ramadan and we heard a mystical interpretation of Yom Kippur, plus there was Jewish meditation, and sufi flute music. There was the usual mix of Palestinians and Jews and his place was packed. More people came too because I made an email list of the people who always ask me "how do you know about these things?" and sent them an email about this event. She was never exposed to anything interfaith and stayed just short of the Ramadan explanation but said she'd like to continue going to these things.

Happy events like these make my spirit soar. I want to live in a country where there are gatherings like this all the time. And they keep getting bigger. People are thirsting for knowledge of each other and for different ways to talk to God.

My family didn't go to synagogue on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur eve my husband, son and I wandered around the neighborhood because everyone is out on the roads. The kids are bicyling on the streets because no cars are driving. We walked passed the packed synagogues. I didn't feel like going in though. We walked passed another small makeshift synagogue held in a kindergarten building. It reminded me of the small synagogue in New Delhi. I told my husband and son that I feel like I want to stay, and listened to the service inside while remaining outside in the cool breeze in the garden. There was a bit of an overflow crowd in the garden and I felt that having the prayers surround me while I just took it into my soul was just as good as praying yourself.

We all fasted and didn't even turn on the tv or computer which meant we were mostly in bed biding our time until we could eat. I was going to go to the local (boring) synagogue at 5:00 pm for the last part of the Yom Kippur service which I find very enjoyable as it is only for one hour and people find themselves adrenalized during this last hour of the fast.

But to backtrack - at 3:00 pm I noticed my daughter sitting by the window reciting Psalms. She had no idea I was watching her but I was. She wasn't just mouthing the words in Hebrew. She was having this amazing conversation with God that astounded me. Her mouth moved as if she was speaking loudly to Him, even though there was no sound coming out of her mouth. I saw her getting emotional, and then finally crying to Him - really crying - and she put the book to her face and rocked back and forth and I felt such joy that my daughter had found her own way to converse with God.

1 comment:

Myrna Golden said...

Just wanted to write to tell you that I just love reading about your life in Israel I have been there many times and plan to come back in the Spring with March of the Living all being well. Do you know any blogs etc where I can read about life in Israel? Thank you. malkagolden@hotmail.com