The Adams Street Shul

Congregation Agudas Achim Anshei Sfard

Weinberg RabbiIt is hard to believe that by this time next week, I will already be scheduled to be back in Newton!  Last Shabbat, four generations of my family were sitting around the table in my rented apartment.  It was a wonderful beginning of a Shabbat in Jerusalem.  The following morning, Judy and I went to the Great Synagogue for services.  The others went to shuls of their choice.  The average Israeli likes quick services.

The Great Synagogue is virtually breathtaking.  It is the closest thing to a Jewish cathedral.  The high ceiling, beautiful stained windows, massive chandeliers, and other rich décor make this sanctuary a truly special experience. 

Wearing a suit and tie (unlike most Israelis) and sitting toward the front, must have caught the attention of the upscale group who apparently are in charge of this synagogue.  I was engaged in conversation and invited to a private kiddush in a remote corner of the building.  The Scotch was the smoothest I ever drank, and the herring (from the Belzer Rebbe!) was delightful. That is not to say that it compared with our fabulous Kiddushes!

I was told that the following week there would be two cantors and the choir would be singing — standing room only.  This week’s cantor was pleasant but, as he reached for a high note, his voice broke.  Nu … it can happen.  But he did it again… twice!  Which led the executive director to sagely say, “Sometimes it is best to leave things simple.”

One of my tasks was to redo my Shabbat tallit.  I wanted new techelet (blue fringes), as well as to get the talit dry cleaned and have the silver resewn.  All these steps would have been quite an undertaking, but my grandson, Dani Eisenstock, undertook the whole venture.  I am really getting spoiled here. 

Which caused me to remember the man who spent some time in Israel and had taken his suit to the dry cleaner. When he was on the plane back to America, he remembered that he had forgotten to pick it up.  Two years later, when he again was in Israel, he found his ticket and thought he might ask the dry cleaner about it.  He never thought he would see the suit again.

“If you have the ticket, I‘m sure we will have the suit,” said the dry cleaner.  “Let me see the ticket.”  After glancing at it for a moment, he said matter-of-factly, “It will be ready next Tuesday.”

...It is now Friday morning and preparations have been completed for my grandson, Zvi’s, Bar Mitzvah.  On Wednesday evening, he led the Maariv service for the first time as an adult.  On Thursday morning, at his school, he received his first aliya.  The shul was packed with boys his age and candies were thrown after he said the brachot.  They didn’t even say Tachanun!  I’m not sure if that would have gone over so well in our shul.

Zvi has a beautiful voice. In fact, his name appears on some CD’s on which he sings with a choir.  He will lead some of the Shabbat services, read the Torah and Maftir.  AND … he will make two si-yums at different times…. one on Shekalim and the other one on the entire Mishnah.  I would not want to compete on a test with theses kids!

Do you know the meaning of CHAMULAH?  It is an Arab word which found its way into the Hebrew vernacular and means “clan.”  To me, it is nothing less than mind-boggling that no less than eighty people, representing all the immediate family from all of Zvi’s sides, will gather together to celebrate this event throughout and after Shabbat.  It has truly become a Chamulah as Hashem smiles upon His people.

... In another few days, the time will come for me to make my way back after this memorable visit.  I am deeply grateful to all in the Shul for their help and encouragement.  I feel that my spiritual batteries were greatly recharged and my relationship with so much family here has been rejuvenated.  I now eagerly look forward to my return and working together with everyone of you to elevate ourselves and our shul to ever greater heights. 

Shabbat Shalom and blessings from Jerusalem.
Rabbi Norbert Weinberg