web analytics
January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Havdalah at Ari’s

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn't realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah.

Young Jewish students at a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Krakow, Poland, during a havdalah ceremony.

Young Jewish students at a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Krakow, Poland, during a havdalah ceremony.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

The Pew Report on the state of American Jewry has frightened us, but there is a way to counter the assimilation of the younger generation. I saw it on a recent Saturday night.

It was a post-Shabbos gathering in a beautiful modern building across the street from where I live in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. I had been told that 303 was the apartment number and I found the door unlocked. When I entered, a few young people who were chatting together welcomed me into the conversation. Lots of folding chairs were arranged around a table in the center of the room. While we talked, young men and women kept arriving, two of them with flutes, five with guitars, one with a harmonica as well as his guitar.

The wine, spices, and candle for Havdalah were placed on the table, and tea lights were lit. The singing began – slow end-of-Shabbos melodies.

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn’t realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah. I was told that this weekly gathering “happened organically,” that the secret was “the wonderful personality of Ari Levine.”

I thought I would visit the gathering for a minute or two but had not realized how moving it would be.

The gathering happened spontaneously, but not overnight. In order to be drawn to this shared experience, a person had to care about a meaningful Havdalah, and in order to participate in the singing one had to know the words. Everyone had either studied in a day school or been introduced to Torah life and learning through NCSY or the Manhattan Jewish Experience or a beginner’s minyan. A number of them had the good fortune to have spent a year or more learning in Israel.

Among the people I recognized were graduates of Yeshiva, Stern, and several other colleges. Some are in graduate school while others are at work as physical or occupational therapists, lawyers, teachers and a variety of other fields.

They have not led a cloistered existence. They have gone to El Salvador and Nicaragua on humanitarian missions to help build libraries in small towns where the natives had never seen a Jewish person before. They have visited Mexico, Russia, and communities across the United States and Canada to add their youthful ruach and joy to Shabbos and Yom Tov. One of the best examples of their idealism is a program my teen-aged niece participated in this summer; it’s called GIVE, and that is what the kids do –give help to poor communities and places devastated by hurricanes.

It takes a lifetime to be an observant Jew. For the fortunate children born in observant homes, it begins with modeh ani at two years old and progresses to berachos, to what’s involved in keeping a kosher home and in eating only kosher food, to the weekly preparation for Shabbos and the delightful atmosphere of enjoying time with family and friends without the intrusion of a cell phone, computer, or any other electrical device.

With every passing year I appreciate more profoundly the structure for life Hashem gave us in the Torah. We have to live in a community in order to attend shul on Shabbos; because we don’t drive on Shabbos or Yom Tov we can’t live in a suburb with acres of land around each home. This guarantees a closeness among members of the community: a new mother has meals brought to her and her family for several weeks after she gives birth; everyone is invited to a kiddush for a special occasion; when a death occurs, a chevrah kadishah prepares the body for burial and everyone in the community comes to console the mourners.

The movements that told their members they didn’t have to observe halacha and study Torah were misguided. Ismar Schorsch, the former chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, has commented on the mistake the Conservative movement made in ruling, when Jews began moving to the suburbs, that driving to shul was permitted on Shabbos. People drove to other places besides shul and Shabbos was destroyed.

It will not take commissions and studies and federation programs to change the situation in the United States. Anyone who wants to make up for all that he or she has missed can call NJOP to find a class in reading Hebrew, in basic mitzvos, an outline of Jewish history. One has to have an interest in finding out what is in the Torah, both Written and Oral.

A person has to intuit that ignorance is undoing his or her Jewishness. He has to feel repelled by vulgar bar mitzvah affairs and by the use of low-class terms in Yiddish; she has to sense that something is wrong when sitting shivah is limited to a few hours for a day or two and turns into a social event with food, drink, and raucous laughter.

A Jew will marry a Jew if he or she has experienced a meaningful Torah life and has learned Torah. The organizations exist to teach, and there are many observant people who will be happy to invite a newcomer for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals.

Everyone is welcome at the Havdalah at Ari’s; it is each person’s decision whether or not to come.

About the Author: Dr. Rivkah Blau is the author of “Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah,” a biography of Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz; the Hebrew translation is entitled “V’Samachta B’Chayekha."


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Havdalah at Ari’s”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hassnain Aliamin , one of four Muslim teenagers who attacked a Jew in Gateshead.
‘Let’s Go Jew-Bashing’ Muslims Hauled into British Court
Latest Indepth Stories
.Voting in the Likud Primaries

Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.

The Striped Hyaena

Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves

British Flag

The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.

Golan map

Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.

Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.

Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians

Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.

How many sites that tell you to check your politics at the door have 10,000 likes?

In this particular case, the issue was whether the Arkansas prison system could prohibit, for security reasons, a devout Muslim’s maintaining a beard of a certain length as a matter of religious practice.

While we recognize the Republican Jewish Coalition is hardly a non-partisan outfit, a snippet from a statement the group released is worthy of note:

More Articles from Dr. Rivkah Blau
Rav Yosef Rosen, the Rogatchover Gaon

His phenomenal memory encompassed the Written Torah, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, and all the major commentaries.

book-diversity-divine

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

Of course it is disingenuous to tell a person from a non-rabbinic, non-rosh yeshiva home to make an effort.

When I give this book, the parents look at the gold Caldecott Medal on the front cover and smile, but look up quizzically – a book for a newborn?

Determination is now being studied by educators and psychologists who want to understand why some people born with every gift do not achieve a meaningful adulthood, while others born into a challenging existence rise above their beginnings to enjoy accomplished lives.

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn’t realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah.

“Radical,” from the Latin word for “root,” means going to the foundation. The foundation is what we have to think about when celebrating a simcha. Instead of peripheral concerns – photographing the proceedings, for example – we should attend to the meaning of the event.

You can tell Rabbi Yossy Goldman’s book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading by its covers. The front cover is a photograph of a rabbi in a shul that is full of light.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/havdalah-at-aris/2013/10/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: