For those who are following regularly -- we all went away together (besides our eldest), but my desire to be together might have clouded my judgement. My youngest is not feeling better, so she did not join me in shul. And now my husband is also not feeling well. Though we all appreciated being together, they both might have been better off at home. *sigh*
Though we have lived in Homat Shmuel for 4 1/2 years, I still feel like I am "coming home" when I spend Shabbat in Katamon/Baka.
When I walked into Shir Hadash (our previous shul) at night, I received such a warm greeting. It was so wonderful to see so many friends, and receive so many hugs!!
At one point in the evening, it was fascinating to find myself leading dancing, especially when there are so many younger, more energetic women than I! It is nice to know that I still have something to contribute -- my energy may be down, but my ruach (spirit) is as strong as ever!
In the morning, I had the same experience, magnified sevenfold!
The moment I walked into Shirat Sarah (my women's tefillah group), I felt embraced by love and caring.
The walk to shul (synagogue) had been harder than I expected. In addition to the heat, and my general difficulty walking, my stomach was upset. I realized I forgot to bring Imodium, and prayed that my stomach would not get worse before I got there! When I finally arrived at the building, I discovered that the Shabbat elevator was not working and I had to walk up the three extra-long flights. I went straight into the ladies room. When I washed up, I saw that my face was flushed. I splashed some cool water onto my face; then I walked into the shul and practically collapsed into a chair.
I had not thought I looked that bad, but several women rushed to fan me and make sure I had something to drink. I wasn't sure whether to be embarrassed or grateful. I chose to be be gracious, and expressed my appreciation for their attentions (while, at the same time, assuring them that I was ok).
To my pleasant surprise, I was not nearly as late as I feared. I rested a bit, then joined the hakafot. I did not sing, as I was saving my voice for the Torah reading.
I enlisted a friend to help me sing for my own hakafah. I was honored with the 6th hakafah, and it was very special to me. (I will post about it separately.)
It was disappointing to me that I would not be reading the aliyot for V'Zot HaB'racha, but I knew that I could not strain my voice that much. I felt relieved when a friend of mine, who is also diligent about reading well, agreed to read in my stead. I was still quite involved, checking the reading and assisting the gabbait, by lining up the women for their aliyot (more complicated than it might seem, since several women had prepared specific aliyot in advance -- but I have been doing this for several years, so I have it more or less under control).
I even remembered to have someone switch me in the middle, so I could grab something for kiddush. In previous years, I always stayed to the end. By the time I realized that I also needed to make kiddush, I consistently ended up missing the reading of the end of the Torah. Since I would be reading that aliyah, I could not very well miss it this year!
I found the strength to read the aliyah loudly and clearly. I felt very emotional about the aliyah, both because of the content and because I have wanted to read this particular aliyah for so long. If I do say so myself, I did a good job. It was such a privilege!
We were not a large crowd this year, so I ended up receiving several other honors, such as hagbah (I volunteered to lift the smallest Sefer Torah!). I also opened the Aron Kodesh before Tefillat HaGeshem (the special prayer for rain).
These might not seem like such a big deal, but they are considered honors in shul, and I do not take that lightly. It does not bother me not to receive any honors, but I still appreciate them when I get them!
The overall atmosphere was that of warmth and inclusion, not just to me, but to all who were present. That is what makes this tefillah group so amazingly special.
Also, thought I have not been a regular at the tefillah since we moved, I knew almost all of the women there. More than that, I felt close to most of the women.
Everyone greeted me with such love and affection, I felt like I had come home from a long journey.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,