Akiva Spiegelman
Akiva Spiegelman
Media Consultant

The longing for the return to synagogues

Ever since COVID-19 barged into our lives a year ago, the whole world has gone into a cultural vortex, in which every field has been affected and forced to adjust in order to continue to exist. While adding insult to injury, sector-personal competitions began alongside these changes in which completely separate cultural institutions and centers began to impose accusations on their neighbors, thus comparing the opening of synagogues to bars, event halls and more. These unnecessary comparisons mainly indicate a lack of understanding between the various Israeli cultures.

Historically, as the Jewish people were distanced from Zion, we had to act in creative methods in continuous attempts to preserve the ember. We shifted from mass pilgrimage on foot to Jerusalem, to a point in which we were able to reduce the walking distance to the place of worship as well as the size of the Jewish communities around the world while creating more and more of them. In this manner, traditions were preserved without the need for frequent and physical visits to the eternal lighthouse of Eretz Israel.

As the economy regained its strength and the restrictions that were gradually lifting a return to the synagogues has been made possible to a certain extent. During the lockdowns countless worship assemblies surfaced throughout the various neighborhoods, adhering to the guidelines and from the same longing to preserve community life. When the synagogues for green passport holders were reopened these quorums began to shrink. This process is likely to take some time, as a personal connection has been established between the worshipers at the newly improvised synagogues.

The extensive media coverage received by various cultural centers, while completely ignoring the synagogues, stems from a lack of understanding of the value of public prayer. The comparisons arose when it was convenient to accuse the public of not keeping the guidelines in the face of exemplary silence regarding those who worked hard to ensure the health of worshipers present to the general public the lack of understanding and inclusion of religion in the State of Israel of 2021. The ongoing attempt to redefine the very pillars of Judaism lead the charge to ignore those so eagerly awaiting to return to their regular religious routine.

All these have been intensified by yet another round of elections in which there are parties that have set a goal of painting entire sectors as guilty of spreading the pandemic or worse- attempting to preserve their lifelong methods. Often the claim of Anti-Semitism is thrown in the air when in reality the real illness stems from an inability to have a dialogue with those different from us. The cultural gaps between the kippah bearers and secular individuals can be bridged out of a value-based and constructive discourse, not necessarily out of hurling baseless accusations that tarnish entire publics left and right. The more we learn to clearly present our reasons for the existence of our centers of the congregation, the meaning and value of public prayer, along with understanding the course of life of those different from us, only then can we produce an understanding that will serve us all. I sincerely hope for a return to Zion soon and in unity, for the good of the entire nation.

About the Author
Akiva Spiegelman holds a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing communications from the Ono Academic College. During his degree, he interned with MK Sharren Haskel, founded the Model UN Club at the Ono Academic Campus, and at the same time served as a spokesman for the Model UN Organization in Israel. In recent years, he served as head of the Open University Student Association's Spokesperson's Department, spokesman for the Center for Near East Policy Research, as a researcher in the Likud campaign and worked in the international department in the Galai Communications PR Firm. Currently acting as an independent consultant to non profit organisations and initiatives.
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