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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Friday Night Services

12/12/2022 09:18:00 AM


Rabbi Chaya Gusfield

At the last in-person Friday night service (scheduled for Dec 2), there was a mix-up and Brandeis was not expecting us. After some conversation, listening, and brainstorming, we were able to go ahead with our service with a time limit of 45 minutes! Our services usually go from 7:00 – 8:15 or so, followed by a small oneg. I had to cut 30 minutes from our usual service.

It is often difficult to offer an abbreviated service because I love our liturgy, love to share Torah, and I think it’s important to offer time for people to get to know each other by sharing something personal that arose for them from the Torah portion. That night, we had to have a last-minute different approach.

The sense of joy just being together pervaded, and we had an amazing service. Part of why that happened was because the Torah portion, Vayetzei, has the story where Jacob has a dream and awakens to the consciousness of being in a Sacred Place. He exclaims,

Ma Nora Hamakom Hazeh!
מַה-נּוֹרָא, הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה
How Awesome is this Place!

We went from the oy of thinking we had to cancel services, to the joy of being together, even if it was abbreviated. We sank deeply into prayer and reflection, and we had a raucous Lecha Dodi. We sang Rabbi Shefa Gold’s Ma Nora Hamakom Hazeh chant (listen below), we danced, and we celebrated the Awesomeness of Or Shalom. We prayed for healing and we remembered those who had died. Joy, creativity, and commitment of the Or Shalom community rose up strong. It was magical.

Please join us for our services:

Embodied Spiritual Practice on Saturday, December 17 RSVP Here

Chanukah party with Ner Tamid on Sunday, December 18 RSVP Here

Our future Friday night services, whether on Zoom or in-person so you can share in some of that Or Shalom magic.

Rabbi Shefa Gold's Ma Nora Hamakom Hazeh chant:

Artwork by Rabbi Chaya Gusfield

For a longer, more personal writing by Rabbi Chaya about that night, please visit her personal blog here.

Wed, February 8 2023 17 Shevat 5783