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SHEMINI ATSERET 5784

10/06/2023 01:39:50 PM

Oct6

Here are some more reflections on my recent trip to Israel (part I appeared in last week’s bulletin.)

I prayed three times at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue: (a) My first Shabbat morning, I went with my son and grandson for davening. They were hoping to hear a world-famous hazzan and rabbi. However, since it was a couple of weeks before RH, I guess the rabbi and hazzan had a vacation. Yet. after the prayers, I gave a warm yishar koach to the man who had been leading the davening, as I told him that it was exactly the nusach that I remembered from my youth minyan when I was in high school. Also, I was honoured to receive an aliya to the Torah.

(b) The following Sunday, my son and I went to mincha/arvit at the Great Synagogue.  We prayed in the Sepharadic minyan on the first floor of the Great Synagogue. But in the hallway, we heard some beautiful singing.

Their brilliant musical conductor, Eli Jaffe, was conducting a choir rehearsal in preparation for selichot. We sat there for several minutes and were amazed by his erudite explanation of every nuance in the selichot melodies.

(c) On selichot night, I went with Ron Gehr and his family to hear traditional pre-RH selichot. I was impressed by the large number of people who came to participate, by the beautiful music of the hazzan and choir, and by the boundless energy of the the choir leader (the aforementioned Eli Jaffe.) But I did have one complaint: although I am knowledgeable about selichot, I did have some trouble figuring out where they were “holding.” I innocently asked: “why didn’t they announce pages?” The emphatic answer that I received was that “no one announces pages in Israel!”  Perhaps that is something the Israelis could learn from us!!

*****

One wonderful experience that I had was the evening when I met with several former Herzliah students of mine who had made aliya. UTT/Herzliah should be very proud of this accomplishment.

[Sadly, I met one shabbat with the daughter of our student the late Dr. Nahum Kovalsky zichrono livracha.

I was told that 2 former students of Herz have been in the Knessset: Michal Cotler and Dan Illouz. When I proudly mentioned this to the men in my brother’s shul in Netanya, they all responded that the Knesset is the worst place to be. It has become a forum for disrespect and shouting. We must direct our prayers that there should be shalom IN Israel:  We have enough problems with our enemies: let’s have peace among ourselves!

***

I happen to be rereading now the great novel of Shai Agnon, “Temol Shilshom.” [I first read it the year after graduating from high school!] So, it was a real thrill to pray in the shul where the Gehrs go, as it as called the Agnon shul, since he used to daven there and lived on the next block!

***

A wonderful experience in Netanya was going to the Mediterranean, after walking through the kanyon [that is, the big shopping mall.]  No, I didn’t swim, but I was able to make the beracha: “barukh ‘attah HaShem,” “who made the great sea.”

On Rosh haShanah, between Mincha and Maariv, all of us shul goers climbed up a hill, from where we could see the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean, in order to say tashlikh. With all due respect to the kiddie’s pool opposite the Spanish, it can’t compete with tashlikh overlooking Yam HaTichon!

Chag Sameah and shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Menahem White

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784