Friday, October 1, 2010

Simcha on Rashbag

The long fall holidays in Israel are now drawing to a close......from the apples and honey of our New Year - Rosh haShana - to the deeper nature of Yom Kippur - either somber or joyful depending on one's tradition; continuing into the sukkot of Sukkot, and ending with a tradition of rejoicing and dancing with the Torah (Simchat Torah) - a practice kept by religious Jews, but the spillover of which is enjoyed by all ...

....if you live in my neighborhood anyway.

I returned home from work last night around 10:30 - 11pm...and the street was bursting with sounds of music, laughter, dancing....coming from all different directions and emphasized by techno-music equipment at its best. It was a block party of sorts, not limited to my block only - except that the dancing takes place, not on the street, but in the various synagogues or beit knesset throughout the neighborhood..or in their parking lots!

After a brief moment of resting and recuping from work, and resisting giving in to the back injury i sustained that day on my job, i grabbed my camera and headed for the source of the loudest sound system ! (what amazed me was that you might expect competing music from so many sources, but it seemed to all blend together!). I found the action I was looking for...t was at the very far end of Rh. Rashbag at the Edmond Safra Beit their parking lot and side yard.

As I walked down Rh. Rashbag I could hear the music coming down the terrace from the shuls on Rh. ben Yoetzer...and I was tempted to divert from Rashbag to take a peek there. But.....truthfully, Rashbag is my street, and we are still courting. Any side glance or trip, no matter how innocent or curious, might be misunderstood, and i didn't want to take that chance.... so.... in the end, my loyalty to Rashbag won over any desire to go up the terrace :)

Actually, the walk down Rashbag gave me opportunity to reflect and remember my own deep thoughts of late...and to ponder the personality of the neighborhood.

Just a few days ago, the sukkot (succas) were being frantically constructed - hammering and the sounds of building were filling the air... neighbors were sneaking off with the fronds of my favorite palm trees for the tops of their sukkot, and fall was being delayed with more heat waves.

After a week of the nighttime street being lit up with the colors of the succa and the smells and sounds of the meals and parties going on in them, there was now the sound of the succot coming down..for the most part a quiet and relaxed disassembling. Children could be seen dragging the now dried out fronds to the trash bins while parents packed away the tents and the poles of the succa.

For all practical purposes the chag was over, except for that wildly happy music blaring from the synagogues, and all people dotting the mirpasot (balconies) up and down the block as families stepped out in the night air to listen and enjoy. (Technically in Israel the Chag was over, but in an effort to identify with Jews in the Diaspora for whom Simchat Torah is an extra day, this second night of hakafot or Hakafot Shniyot is always observed. (Hakafot basically means "dancing in circles with the Torah"). Because it is not an official chag, it is relaxed from all or most of the regulations of the Yom Tov.

The yard itself was filled with men and boys dancing with the Torah, with each other, clapping and singing and reciting blessings in between. Women and children, old men and women, looked on, also clapping and singing. Candy and treats were thrown over the crowd several times, sending children scampering to find the treasures now scattering across the floor. Refreshments were available for those who wanted and neighbors, like myself, were totally and happily welcomed.

It was enough to ease the pain from my day's back injury at my job, and lift my spirits...

..As i returned home the melodies of one of my favorites, Anachnu ma'aminim, filled the nighttime skies and the holiday of Sukkot / Simchat Torah 5771 was now history......tonight when i walked down seemed too quiet and rather dark and dull.

View more pictures of Simcha on Rashbag

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