The call came in the early afternoon. “We do the welcome Shabbat service from our balconies at 6.30am. Can you make that known?” We actually have a WhatsApp group, so I sent the word (and asked to add the caller).
You need 10 [men – grrrr] over 13 years old, for full service and one of our neighbors says kaddish (the funeral prayer) after losing his father, so it was especially important for him to have a minyan (quorum of 10 men).
At 6:30 p.m. we all went to our balconies and those without a balcony stood at their front windows. The sun went down. Chuck from below, who says Kaddish, stood at the door and counted the men. We had 10, but we were still fairly dispersed, so some of the men came from Entrance A and stood on the street between Entrances B and C.
In the beginning it was a bit like the intro to The Brady Bunch when they are all in their own boxes and looking at each other from top to bottom. But
we they started to pray, it became more like a scene from a shtetl in 19th century Eastern Europe. I half expected the violinist on the roof to dance down the street.
Chuck ran the afternoon service on weekdays. Then Hagai came down and directed the welcome Sabbath service. Finally the new tenant went down from apartment 4 to lead the evening service for the Shabbat.
On the way we were joined by others who had passed or heard singing from nearby buildings. Some went back to get their prayer books as all passers-by lived on their homes within the 100-meter limit.
It was very special. The last time all residents met without arguing about building maintenance was when there was a fire in Apartment 20 and we all ran into the street. The time before that was during the last war when we all met in our pajamas in the air raid shelter. Nothing like a good crisis to bring people together.
Tomorrow morning everyone will meet at 8:30 a.m. for morning service, although they don’t have a Torah scroll for weekly reading.
Hagai asked who wanted to do this and counted whether they had enough men. “We are three, x and his son Mendy, Oz, Michael … where’s Michael? Michael?”
“I am here, yes I will be there.”
“Chuck, Brigitte’s husband. Where’s Brigitte’s husband?”
“He didn’t come out.”
“I’ll be there!” came a voice below me.
“Ok, I think we’ll have enough. See you all tomorrow morning, Shabbat Shalom!”
I will sit in my bathrobe on my balcony, have a cup of coffee, read my book and generally soak up the atmosphere. This is the perfect way to make a synagogue if you ask me.
And if we are still closed next week, it is 6.40 p.m. on the balconies to greet the next Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom xxx
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