Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bodies of Water and Prayer

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The melodiousness of the sound of the waves lapping is always music to my ears and my heart, causing me to think about the sea and how it intertwines with religions practices.

The sheer beauty and majesty of the sea leaves me in awe and wonderment.

In Southern California, many Jews come to Venice or Santa Monica to “cast away their negativeness and sins (Tashlich)” during Rosh Hashanah. It is an emotional sight to see the Jewish community gathering together, at the sea, heads bowed and heads raised upwards, in prayer.

Prayer and seeking forgiveness on Rosh Hashanah, can also be attained at a river, a lake, a pond, or other sources of water. The water source is symbolic of our sins moving on, and our determination to not repeat the negativity of the past.

two benches

Shabbat Shalom!

I wish you all a Sweet New Year, filled with serenity and joy! Shanah tova!

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Sunday Scenes: Synagogue Simplicity

mickve israel

I have attended many Shabbat and holiday services in synagogues, some have been architectural wonders, like the synagogue in Savannah, Georgia, Mickve Israel, pictured above (photo taken by me a few years ago).

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The exterior is grand in appearance, much like the interior, which houses an old Torah brought over on a ship, and other antiquities from the 18th century. Do not get me wrong, I loved the interior, with all of its flourishes, opulence, columns, vaulted ceilings, etc. To be able to pray within the walls of magnificent architecture holds its own place in my heart.

interior syna

But, my heart feels at home, in simplistic surroundings, like in the photograph above, which I took, recently. The exterior and the interior speak to me, and illuminate my experiences while praying and mingling with the congregation. The euphemism, “Home is where the heart is”, holds true for me, while within the simple architectural environment with its basic chairs, understated Bema/Sanctuary around the Torah Ark, etc. (The screen is not a normal part of the interior, and is only used for special screenings.)

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My sense of being a part of the Jewish community, a community that has endured so much struggle and hardship, horrific moments and perseverance, through the millennia, is heightened by the subtle and toned-down architectural interior, and the simple Judaica accessories, paintings, etc.

Prayers are elevated within the context of the interior, and resound through me immensely. I am home, each time I attend service or events. My heart fills with the many emotions that prayer reflects, such as sadness, strength, candor, joy, and so much more. I treasure my moments spent within the walls of synagogue simplicity.

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“(Proverb) People long to be at home.; Your home is whatever place you long to be.”

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