I went out to my porch this morning to daven....just during this past year, I have been more drawn to some sort of daily prayer, though I must admit that when I'm rushed, I say the bare minimum. However, when I have a few extra minutes, I have started to put more time into prayer, and appreciate the calm and sense of purpose that it gives.
Anyway, while I was davening (praying), I heard the singing from the various homes surrounding me...the Shabbat songs that many families sing. One family had a LOT of guests, and were singing Carlebach tunes...another family, Sepharadim, were singing their own niggunim (wordless tunes) and a third family, Brastlav Hassidim, had their own songs. Where else could one enjoy such an atmosphere! I sorely regret that my children don't have the tradition of singing on Shabbat, but at least they're staying at the Shabbat table longer to talk and enjoy each other's company.
This week we finished the fall holidays. Simhat Torah was the highlight, and for the second year in a row, there was a women's Simhat Torah group in my neighborhood.
Ten years ago, the synagogue that we used to go to, made up of about a dozen "modern Orthodox" families, let women dance with the Torah in the women's section of the synagogue, and on Simhat Torah morning, a large group of Ultra-Orthodox came thundering down to the shul to instigate what can only be described as a pogrom. They broke windows, hit people, and created a situation that, until today, has had reprecussions in the community. It was a psychological blow to a community which had always believed that the different groups were able to get along, and I know a lot of people who were forever changed by that Simhat Torah.
In order to keep peace, the synagogue never again had women dancing with the Torah, but the need and desire never dissappated, and when an ad hoc group started to get together for their own services, and work to make a women's Simhat Torah celebration, a lot of women started to come out of the woodwork to join.
This year was the second time that it happened...the information about the "happening" is passed from mouth to mouth quietly, so that the "wrong ears" shouldn't hear of it. But women from all different communities came to join together to celebrate, and it was quite wonderful.
Tomorrow, Avishai returns to the army, Ariella to school, and the rest of the kids to their school. It will be a relief to have everyone back in their spots, and I'm looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, the biggest relief will be NOT looking at Ariella in her spagetti strap/belly shirts.