I had the privilege last week of welcoming Shabbat in the synagogue in Marrakech with a handful of the remaining Jews of Morocco. It was remarkable to be unable to communicate with most of the worshippers, and yet be able to pick up a siddur and pray with them. I tell all our b’nei mitzvah students that one of the goals of their training is that they will be able to walk into a synagogue anywhere in the world and feel connected – and my experience in Marrakech is exactly what I mean. Some of the melodies were familiar, though most were not. They sang Mi Chamocha to the tune of Jerusalem of Gold, and Yigdal to Hatikvah. But we were able to follow along and join in. And at the end, the warm wishes of “Shabbat Shalom” were very familiar.
The 100 or so Jews of Marrakech struggle to put together a minyan each week, and they wonder how much longer they will be able to do it. Helping them made me appreciate again the size and the vibrance of the Westchester Jewish community. We generally take it as a given that minyans – and even synagogues – will be here when we need them. I encourage you to take advantage of – and to support – our local prayer community! I promise that the melodies will be familiar, and you’ll have a wonderful experience. Join us this Friday and Saturday! Shabbat Shalom!