Blessed greetings

Yesterday I got a chance to take a walk on the beach in Ashkelon after a work-related trip to that coastal city about an hour away from Jerusalem. I miss the sea, so I totally loved the air, the sight, the feel, the smell, Рeverything about that little visit to the beach.

As I was leaving, I noticed this sign:

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The literal translation of the Hebrew would be something like: “May you go out to peace”. Not quite like “See you again”, huh? But it is cultural! If you were to say in English “May you go out to peace” or “Leave in peace” or something like that, you would think that you were leaving some type of religious institution and not the beach!?!

This is part of what I love about living in Israel, – the way we greet each other. You know, whenever you say “Welcome” in Hebrew, you are actually saying “Blessed are those who come”. Blessing each other is part of the culture and the way the language is built up.

And at this time of the year, in addition to wishing each other a happy and sweet new year, we wish each other “Gmar chatima tova”, basically meaning “May you have your name written in the book of life”. Now, – where else in the world does one go around saying that type of thing to parents at the school, supermarket clerks, neighbors, – anyone?! Only in Israel.

I love the blessings of Israel.

Rosh Hashanah Prayer

We have just celebrated yet another Rosh Hashanah, and as we have just entered a new year, I thought I would take the opportunity to start blogging again! ūüôā¬†I had some¬†of those high and inspired moments during the prayer in the synagogue on the mornings of Rosh Hashanah, and I remember thinking afterwards that I should share this on my blog, – so here we go!

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Our Rosh Hashanah table this year

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish fall high holidays, and it comes after a month of spiritual preparation, where we as a people and as individuals draw closer to God. We hear the Shofar-blows as wake-up-calls to remember why we are here, who we belong to, where we came from and where we are headed.

Then we get to Rosh Hashanah, to the feast of Trumpets. This is a two day holiday which is largely spent in prayer at the synagogues. And there is something so special about liturgical prayers, – it links us all together in such an amazing way! The depth of these prayers, these scriptures and songs, fills my heart and gets me to feel so excited about being alive and being a part of THIS!

At our synagogue we had several services going on simultaneously. Such a large part of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, come out for this, that we need to expand. So as we came in, some people who had started earlier, were praying downstairs, and we heard their shofar-blows and singing. Later, those of us upstairs split up into two groups, and we went downstairs to continue with the second half of the service there, but we could still hear the prayer going on upstairs.

And then to think of the fact that all over Jerusalem, all over Israel, people are praying these same prayers at this holy, set apart time! And in different time zones in different locations, Jews all over the world are praying these exact same prayers, in the same language on this special holiday! Wow! I am thankful to be alive, and to get to spend my life taking part in these types of experiences!

Just listen to some of these prayers:

Remember us for life, O King who desires life, and write us in the book of life – for your sake, o God of life! King, Helper, Savior, Shield: Blessed are You, LORD, Shield of Abraham!

And so may Your name be sanctified, LORD our God, through Israel Your nation and Jerusalem Your city, and Zion, the dwelling place of Your honor…

In the book of life, blessing, peace and prosperity, and good decrees, salvations and consolations may we and all Your people the house of Israel be remembered and written before You for a good life, and for peace. Blessed are You, LORD, who blesses His people Israel with peace.

AND YOU ARE KING -THE LIVING, EVERLASTING GOD!

Oh, how our voices went upwards together as we cried out:

This day, may You strengthen us…

This day, may You bless us…

To join ones voices together with the ones in the same room, hearing the people above, below, the people in the neighboring synagogue, hearing Shofar-blows all over Jerusalem, – it is a quite heavenly experience! When all these houses of prayer are filled to the brim, with hardly any standing room left even! What a privilege to get to take part in it! To actually have a seat in the midst of it!

And then we prayed together:

As is written: I shall bring them to My holy mountain, and I shall have them rejoice in My house of prayer; their offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted, desired on My altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all peoples…

How exciting it is to be alive! And the year we have just entered is 5777. So many sevens! A number symbolizing perfection. And the letter for the number 5 in Hebrew, is Hey, which is often used for HaShem, the God of Israel. He is Perfect, – over and over again! Always! May that be proclaimed wide and far this year!

I find myself having high expectations for this year. May we all faithfully take our parts in the great things that are happening in our time!