This entry will not be a quick one. I am still assimilating information and pondering on what was a very interesting and wonderful day, you might be hearing about this for weeks!!
As I mentioned in my last post, we were going to the Sabbath service at the Synagogue, and then the Kiddush lunch afterwards. The husband and I arrived at the Synagogue and walked in, to be greeted by the Programme director from the Community Centre, and a good friend of mine who I knew from the Embroiderer's Guild. The husband donned a kippah and we entered the Sanctuary.
We entered and sat with our friend Fred and several other committee members, and it struck me that we were lucky and privileged to be there. I have always had the deepest respect for Jewish people and have known and worked with many over the years, so I tried very hard to take everything in as I didn't want to forget a single detail.
It was an amazing sight. The synagogue wasn't particularly full, but the Sabbath service is two hours long, and people kept arriving throughout. My delight was in seeing men and women in prayer shawls, and that the bulk of the service was sung or chanted rather than spoken. The young lady who led the Torah service had the most beautiful voice. Fred told us which pages to turn to, and helped us along, the service is in Hebrew, and it was lovely to hear the words. The opening of the Ark was breathtaking, and the lights sparkled on the finials to the Torah's stored there.
A Torah was then lifted out, and carried around the Sanctuary, and the congregation came down and either touched a corner of their shawl, or bible (although I don't think it's called a Bible),to the Torah, before it was taken to the lectern. The finials were removed and the cover removed, and then the Torah was unrolled. The Torah reader then used the Yad to follow the writings while we followed in our books. To be honest, it seemed at times a bit chaotic until you realised that all the people on the dais had a role to play. There were several readers, and we had help from a lovely young lady in knowing which page we should be on.
The second service was led by our friend, and was lovely. Again, there were readings and several moments of private prayer. I found it fascinating. The Torah was then rolled and put back into its cover and the finials replaced, then taken around the Sanctuary again before being replaced in the Ark. The doors to the Ark were closed, and the service continued. Then, a short while later, they were opened again and then closed. The children then came up and closed the outer doors to the Ark which was lovely.
The President of the Synagogue made a closing address and then the Rabbi did a Kiddush toast, cleansed her hands and broke bread. After this, the service ended and we all started to make our way to the hall for lunch.
Everyone was so welcoming. There was not one moment when we were left on our own, we were well looked after and the food!!! Oh my goodness, it was lovely, salads, bagels, lox, hummus and a dessert table laden with fresh fruit and pastries.
I actually felt a little overwhelmed by it all. I had taken my camera thinking I would take photos at the lunch, but completely forgot about it, but then perhaps there were other reasons too. It will be a long time before we ever experience anything like this again, a community opened its hearts to us in grateful thanks for something we just thought would be fun to do, I don't think we even gave a thought to the impact that it would have but I am so pleased I had that opportunity to make new friends and to experience so much.
I also found the service interesting, looking at it from the viewpoint of an outsider. I converted to the Catholic faith at Easter from Anglican. Not too much of a stretch as the faiths are similar in a way, the Catholic Church is perhaps more rigid. I'm sure it will shock some people, but I had a rough year last year and needed an anchor to hold me steady. I have, over the years, had many Catholic friends and been to Mass more often than any other service in an Anglican church, so for me it was a natural thing to do.
Hmm, this is quicker than I thought!
So, what does today hold? Well, I will be having a visitor for the next week! My friend's children are going to Soccer Camp and they need a billet for one of the coaches, guess who was volunteered?? I have never had, and neither has the husband, any interest in Soccer so it should be a very interesting week, I hope they don't mind. I am also going to be having three young ladies over to do some"Art". I put it like that as one of them called to ask if it would be ok if they came to do something with me, I am always pleased to have company in the studio so said yes, what would they like to do? Something "abstracty" was the reply. Well, that was helpful, I will also spend part of today tidying the studio and preparing for the workshop and looking at the fabric I dyed on Friday, so, busy, busy, and thinking about what I will be teaching these girls, I do have one or two ideas but we'll just have to wait and see.....