From the street into the kitchen

צילום: גרשון אלינסון
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

“Shalom, In a little while all the synagogues will be open once again. We have heard for weeks about people whose synagogues were closed but not about prayer services started in the street under the kitchen windows of people like me. The last time I set foot in a synagogue was for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah. At first, I was angry at the people who had started praying below. I was even planning to complain about them. But over time their praying has become part of my daily rhythm and I have even begun to like it. I do not pray with them but notice that the sun comes up with their morning prayer and I know that each day starts with that prayer, both for them and for me. And I see how the sun goes down during their minchah prayer and how the stars come out with their evening prayer. Sometimes I even answer ‘Amen’ when they say Kaddish and I notice that one more day has passed as they count the Omer and loudly declare the number of counted days.

The main thing of course is Shabbat. Their prayer is slower and full of songs. Most of the tunes, at first, I did not know but now I know them well and even find myself humming them during the week. ‘Lecha dodi likrat kallah.’ There is no kitschy ending to this story. I will not start going to the synagogue when the corona is over and I did not even go down to tell those who had been praying below ‘thank you’ when their synagogue reopened. They don’t know that I was with them when they prayed. But now that everyone is talking about easing restrictions and returning to a routine, I am happy of course but also a little sad that my private synagogue under my kitchen window will soon be closed.”

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