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Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

Posted on 07/30/2010 @ 07:10 PM

Tags: PDI

PDI Israel

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By Stacy Heller, Great Midwest Region Program Director

"Shabbat Shalom." People are rushing around saying this as they quickly make all of their last minute purchases for Shabbat on a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. If you ever get the opportunity to experience Machane Yehudah (the Jewish market), I highly suggest you go on a Friday during the early hours leading up to Shabbat. In between all of the hustle and bustle of the local community, you will find people from all over the world who come to Machane Yehudah just for the Friday afternoon experience. Families picking up Challah and fruit for their Shabbat Dinner table, young children surrounding the candy stands, merchants calling to you to come over and make a purchase from their stand and of course the delicious smell of chocolate rugallah from Marzapan Bakery (which happens to be our groups favorite bakery).

Today our group came full circle on our journey together. We departed the north and spent the morning driving to Jerusalem (where we started out) and now we will spend our final Shabbat and weekend together in the same place. However, this time we have a better understanding of the land of Israel. We have explored many sites, met with numerous of people from different communities and organizations and learned from our professors and each other.

When we arrived in Jerusalem, some of us headed to Machane Yehudah, others spend time eating Falafel and shopping at Ben Yehudah Street, while the rest of the group relaxed at the hotel in preparation for Shabbat. Right before it was time to bring in Shabbat, we gathered together, the females lit Shabbos candles and wished everyone "Shabbat Shalom." After this we split up in group and headed to a variety of synagogues for services.

This evening I spend Shabbat Services at Shira Hadasha, which is an orthodox congregation. Men and women pray separately on either side of a mechitza (divider) that runs down the middle of the sanctuary. The bima is in the center which provides equal access for both sides of the mechitza. What I enjoyed about this synagogue is the women get opportunities to lead optional parts of the service, such as Kabbalat Shabbat from the women's side of the mechitza. Women are also called to the Torah and can make Kiddush. What's special about their Friday evening Kabbalat Shabbat service is the entire service is done in harmonious singing. It is one of the most intentional spirited services that I have ever been to. The ruach and harmonious sounds in the sanctuary are absolutely beautiful. Shira Hadasha is a very well known synagogue that draws in a lot of visitors, so i you plan to go, definitely get there early for good seats!

Our evening concluded with a nice Shabbat Dinner together at our hotel followed by a meaningful discussion with our group and professors.

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