“Fire is 1/60 of hell, honey is 1/60 of the manna, Shabbat is 1/60 of the World to Come, sleep is 1/60 of death, and dreams are 1/60 of prophecy. Dreams are the buds of prophecy.”
Last Shabbat hundreds of Edgwarians were privileged to taste 1/60th of the coming of the messiah. Before you think I am exaggerating about the Maccabeats coming to Edgware, please bear with me for this short thought.
Last Friday night Edgware United Synagogue was privileged to be hosting the Maccabeats for a simcha in the shul that Shabbat. They were scheduled to lead the services Friday night and Shabbat Musaf for the benefit of the community.
Obviously, word got out to the wider community that they were coming and what can only be described as a sight of wonder, the people came out in droves! Men, women, children, whole families packed the rafters of Edgware United, in a show of people not far off the yamim noraim levels. But this is not all, the people sat in anticipation, the buzz in the air was tangible, there were children running around, smiles on faces, never before have you seen such excitement to be in shul, ready to daven.
The service/performance (you were never sure whether to join in or to just listen) was awesome, inspiring and beautiful. Modern day chazanut at its best, not pompous, but heartfelt and haimish, carlebach tunes, sang in perfect harmony. I was not there Shabbat day but heard it was equally as special and the crowd was amazing.
So what was so special? You heard a concert by the Maccabeats – big deal. The highlights for me were the tangible sense of anticipation of what will happen next, the excitement in the air and the smiles on people’s faces when they started singing kabbalat Shabbat, entering kabbalat Shabbat like that is unheard of, it is usually a battle to stay awake or read a sedra sheet whilst the chazzan belts out the service. The other highlight that I will always remember is the sight of men, women, children, families, husbands and wives, all out on a Friday night despite the late time, coming together in unity to come to shul, to daven and sing together.
It was also poignant that this took place in Edgware United, that great once was cathedral of Edgware, currently finding itself in the midst of a wave of chareidi settlement now such fundamental part of the lifeblood of Orthodoxy in Edgware. A few weeks back on Shavuot Edgware United hosted a neilat hachag for all the Orthodox shuls in Edgware with shiurim given by the leading Rabbis of the area as well singing and snacks. For those that participated, it was the highlight of the chag, an incredible achievement. But looking around, you would find it hard to see many members of Edgware United, instead was a sea of black, a taste of the future demographic of Edgware’s Jewish community.
Last Friday night was something very special that will forever be etched in my memory. It is not often you are given a glimpse into hidden matters, so close yet so elusive, how can we take this experience and try to bring it down into reality? These surely should be the questions taxing the best and the brightest at the United Synagogue. We tasted the fruit, and it was good. Where can we get some more?