Monday, October 5, 2015

Happy Tears

Though I am not usually one to praise organized religion, I must give credit to the local custom for Simchat Torah [literally translated as "The Joy of the Torah"].

We went to the synagogue down the road from our house, and half her class was there;  she immediately ran off with some of her friends and had me hold the Torah plush toy, which she and many other children in the building had brought to the festivities.

This day of the last day of the Succot holiday specifically celebrates endings and beginnings, the end of the Five Books and the beginning of the cycle with the reading of Genesis.  At a certain point, all the children in the synagogue are invited to stand under the tallit [prayer shawl] and get a blessing, and a prominent gentleman of the synagogue reads from the Torah.

I watched these proceedings from the Women's Section upstairs, and the view made me gasp:  you could not see the floor of the Men's Section as children covered every square inch.  (Like ants at a picnic.)  They sat in chairs and next to the reader and on the stage next at the front of the synagogue, almost 200 little people.

Before you praise their maturity and piety, let me add that they had been promised that if they behaved nicely, they would all receive a three-foot high bag of candies and treats, so these beautiful children had much incentive.

It took five men's tallit to cover the area and the heads of all the children, they said the blessing as a group and listened to the Torah reading, and then the parents sang a special prayer asking G-d and the angels to lead, guide and protect their offspring.

It moved me to tears, this idea of community and continuity, seeing a whole generation before my eyes, the next generation of Israeli children who will lead the way and change the world.

When Raphaela received the ginormous bag of candy as promised, she was moved to tears, "happy tears," as well.

1 comment:

Batya Medad said...

Another great advantage to my front row balcony seat in the Ezrat Nashim. Ours was also full of local kids and neighbors' grandkids.