Sunday, August 13, 2006

From the Other Side of the Mechitza

There is so much to write about in this war - the rockets still falling, the ceasefire agreement, the upcoming political firestorm that will make the fighting in Lebanon look tame by comparison, the American's disappointment by the results of this round of fighting, etc., etc. It is sometimes hard to pick a topic to focus on.

I am going to ignore the above topics for today and share a perspective that isn't always written about on the blogs.

I am an Orthodox Jewish woman and although I do not pray with a minyan (a group of ten adult men) on a regular basis, I do attend the synagogue on Sabbath mornings and for special occasions.

One of these "special occasions" was the evening of the Ninth of Av, when we read the book of Eicha (Lamentations) and mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. After the reading there was a break before a scheduled woman's Torah lesson, so most of us waited in our section of the synagogue, behind the mechitza (the barrier separating between the men's and women's sections which is found in Orthodox synagogues). I noticed not too far away from me a group of women forming, and I quickly realized that they were all mothers of sons now fighting in Lebanon. I couldn't hear what they were saying, as I sat too far away, and I didn't feel it was my place to move closer just to satisfy my curiosity. But their faces spoke clearly enough. Grim, and sad, but strong nevertheless.

On the following Sabbath morning I sat next to a very young woman who I recognized as one of the newer faces in our settlement. I knew that her husband was called up and serving in Lebanon - and a quick glance to my left showed me how hard it was for her. Red eyes and nose and slightly trembling fingers holding the siddur (prayer book) spoke volumes. It is forbidden to mourn on the Sabbath, but I couldn't help but sigh. It helped me focus on my prayers, though.

Yesterday I spent the Sabbath with family members in another city in Israel. At one point I noticed that someone was giving out little scraps of paper to each man in the synagogue. After the services were over I went up to my family and asked them what they were. On each scrap of paper was written a name of a soldier, Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of the mother. Each man was requested to pray and learn Torah especially in the merit of this specific soldier. It gave me pause when my nephew's scrap of paper had my son's name - both his given name and my given name.

For more information about this program, see this article on the Arutz 7 website. To participate yourself, send an e-mail to


Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

WBM: When we say the prayer in shul for the welfare of IDF soldiers, we include, out loud, the name of all the soldiers from our yishuv.

There are dozens of after name of our neighbors and their sons are read off in the middle of the tefilla.

You can hear a pin drop...

12:43 PM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Jameel - sounds like a good idea. I certainly think about them all of the time.

3:20 PM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

your post just put a lot of things into perspective.
all of israel, as always, remains in our prayers.

4:52 AM, August 14, 2006  
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