Beit Chaverim, West Palm Beach, Fla., prayed Psalm 122 during Shabbat services. Temple Sinai of Bergen County, Tenafly, NJ, read two prayers for Jerusalem during Torah study. At Temple Beth-El in Las Cruces, NM, they sang “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” as the opening song and the service included other prayers and songs for Jerusalem and peace.
When Shabbat ended and Rosh Chodesh began last evening here in Jerusalem, more than 200 people met at the Tachanah HaRishonah – Jerusalem’s First Station – to sing and pray for peace in this holy city, this city of gold. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Canada and the UK, 36 synagogues were praying for Jerusalem, as well.
Wimbledon & District Synagogue, London, UK, were told about the Jerusalem prayer rally then read a prayer for Peace in the Middle East. Or Chadash, Chicago, heard a Torah drash on Jerusalem and concluded their service by singing Hatikvah.
In Jerusalem, we made havdallah. We sang the 121st Psalm and “Im Eshkachech Yerushalim.” We heard Torah from Rabbi Naamah Kelman, dean, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, spiritual leader / founder, Kehilat Kol HaNeshama; and Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, Rosh Yeshiva, Sulam Ya’akov, who said: “To bring light to this very dark place, the answer is to do good for people.”
Here’s how synagogues outside of Israel joined our rally: I read about the Jerusalem prayer event on Facebook. Noticing that the 7 p.m. rally time coincided with morning t’fillot in the U.S., it struck me that North American synagogues could actually pray for Jerusalem at the very same instant as our local prayer event. The idea was born on Thursday afternoon, one day before Shabbat, roughly 24 hours to get the ball rolling and get commitments.
I created a Facebook event called “Pray with Jerusalem,” asking rabbis, cantors and synagogue leaders to do just that. With each commitment, I posted thank you notes to Facebook and Twitter. My hope: 25 commitments. But why not think bigger? I announced a stretch goal, asking on Twitter: “Will 100 synagogues commit to Pray with Jerusalem this Shabbat?” I also provided a list of additional prayers and readings.
Other folks pitched in, reaching out via social media and to groups of rabbis and cantors via message boards. We asked synagogues to pledge their commitment on the Pray with Jerusalem Facebook event.
What’s remarkable is this: in roughly a day, 36 synagogues expressed a commitment to Pray with Jerusalem. And they did. From what they said, two prayers were used most often in these shuls: “Mothers of Jerusalem” and “For Peace in the Middle East.”
A bit of the unexpected happened in the process. A song leader added prayers for Jerusalem to two services that she conducts at senior centers. People decided to pray as individuals and they let us know. Another friend included prayers for Jerusalem at a large going away party for an Israeli couple. And a cousin of mine — who went to a new shul in Austin, Tex., for the first time — unexpectedly heard the Rabbi announce the reading of a poem for Jerusalem written by me. Now that’s a nice surprise gift!
I’m convinced many more synagogues decided to Pray with Jerusalem without reporting a commitment to participate. Here are the synagogues telling us that they prayed with Jerusalem:
Am Shalom, Glencoe, IL
Beit Ahavah,The Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton
Beit Chaverim, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Beit Tikvah of Ottawa
Beth El Congregation, Phoenix, AZ
B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL
B’nai Shalom Congregation, Albany, NY
Central Synagogue, New York City
Congregation Adat Shalom, Los Angeles
Congregation Beth Elohim, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas in Syracuse, NY
Congregation Bnai Tikvah, North Brunswick, NJ
Congregation Emanu El in Redlands, Calif.
Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA
Congregation Or Chadash, Chicago
Israel Center of Conservative Judaism, Queens, NY
New London Synagogue, London, UK
North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Ramat Shalom Synagogue, Plantation, Fla.
Sun City Jewish Congregation, Palm Desert , Calif
Temple Beth Am, Bayonne, NY
Temple Beth El, Riverside, Calif.
Temple Beth Emet, Anaheim, Calif.
Temple Beth Or, Dayton
Temple Beth Torah, Fremont, Calif.
Temple Beth-El of Northbrook, IL
Temple Beth-El, Las Cruces, NM
Temple Chai, Long Grove, IL
Temple Emanuel, Denver, CO
Temple Israel, Ottawa, Canada
Temple Shearith Israel, Ridgefield, CT
Temple Sinai of Bergen County, Tenafly, NJ
Town and Village Synagogue, Manhattan, NY
Wimbledon & District Synagogue in London, UK
Thank you for your prayers.