Saturday, May 7, 2011

Shabbat Shalom!

Prayers at the Western Wall
Yesterday was the highlight of our trip so far!!! We had class like normal, but then we went to the Western Wall to welcome in the Sabbath.  I was not sure what to expect.  In my mind I had this picture of a reverent, contemplative religious ceremony.  I could not have been more wrong!

When we got there, we immediately found ourselves on a huge plaza with people every where.  Scores of Jews had gathered to welcome in the Sabbath. The first plaza does not segregate men and women, but to go up to the wall our group had to separate. As we got closer to the Wall, we were able to see women of all ages praying and chanting.  It was an overwhelming sight! The devotion among these people is amazing! While my friends and I were returning to the main plaza, we walked past a group of teenage girls who were singing and dancing. Upon seeing us, they immediately invited us to join and before we knew it, we were dancing and singing in Hebrew. After our 'song' ended we returned to the main plaza. There seemed to be added celebration since Monday and Tuesday is Israel's independence celebrations. Once we got to the main plaza, we joined another group of dancers. A large group of BYU students and Israeli soldiers were dancing and singing.  It was one of the most joyful moments I can recall.  The excitement and joy was exuding from these soldiers and the BYU students were excited to interact with locals our age. The young Israeli's are so full of life! They were lively, enthusiastic, and simply beautiful :)
Celebration at Western Wall, much like the one we saw.
Coming back to the JC, I realized that Fridays at the Western Wall are more than just welcoming in the Sabbath--they celebrate the Sabbath.  This is an event that the Jews look forward to each week.  It is not a burden, but rather it is a delight.  The events of Friday night looked less like religious duty and more like an anticipated event that had finally arrived.  This attitude about the Sabbath is wonderful and one that I hope to adopt.  Being able to worship on the Sabbath is privilege and deserves to be celebrated.  And celebrate the Jews do :)

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