Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Joy of Torah

Would that I could take pictures of the joint Simchat Torah services held last night at Gates of Prayer Synagogue, the Reform house of worship where Orthodox Congregation Beth Israel meets. Just ponder the diversity of Jewish worship at Gates of Prayer. It was there that Rabbi Uri Topolosky welcomed Conservative Congregation Shir and rabbinical student Andy Shugerman to Beth Israel's meeting room and erstwhile sanctuary. Earlier, on Sunday, Shugerman welcomed Beth Israel to enjoy a Hoshanna Rabba sing-along featuring the dynamic voices of Pey Dalid. Pey Dalid and Ofer Kurtsburg, Beth Israel's own chazzan, sang along with Topolosky and his administrator, Rabbi David Posternock. Both Topolosky and Posternock provided additional guitar accompaniment to that of Pey Dalid, which also has a percussionist in the group of four. Because it was Yom Tov, no guitars were used at last night's Simchat Torah service. It really didn't matter, though. Everyone bellowed out their joy in enthusiastic fashion throughout the night, eventually dancing in the street with six sefer Torah scrolls, five from Beth Israel and one from Shir Chadash. It was the second year in a row that women were able to joyously dance with the scrolls, something that had never happened in 103 years of Beth Israel's existence until Rav Uri came to New Orleans last year. This new tradition was presaged by a fun game of Jewish Trivia moderated by Rabbis Topolosky and Shugerman. The singing and dancing was energetic and very physical. Pey Dalid even performed their own version of Jewish "gospel." It was inspiring to say the least. Because of the holiday, I couldn't take any pictures. Can I at least get an amen and a hallelujah?

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