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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

The Knesset at Prayer

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Israeli Knesset Members and workers gather for a prayer in the Kneseet for the release of three Jewish boys who were kidnapped a few days ago by Hamas.

Pope to Host Peres and Abbas in Peace Prayer at Vatican

Friday, May 30th, 2014

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will join Pope Francis in a prayer for peace at the Vatican.

The prayer will take place on June 8, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed Thursday, according to Vatican Radio.

The pope made the invitation following the celebration of Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem during his visit last week to the Palestinian West Bank city. A rabbi and a Muslim imam will be present at the service, the pope reportedly said.

In his invitation, the pope said, “I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer. … All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.”

Later, he added, “Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”

The offer comes a month after the collapse of nine months of U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Peres will leave office at the end of July.

Preparations Completed for Priestly Blessing from Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Rabbis have been busy preparing the traditional Birkat Kohanim, the Blessing of the Priests, set for Thursday.

One of the most moving events in the entire holiday, Jews and Gentiles alike flock to the Western Wall from around the world to be present for the blessing.

The benediction is given solely by Jewish males who are descended from kohanim – those who are in the patriarchal line from members of the priestly class dating all the way back to the time of the ancient Holy Temples. Those who recite the blessing cover themselves (and any children they may have with them) with their prayer shawls, spreading out the shawl in such a way so that they are unseen by others as they recite the benediction.

The blessing at the Western Wall is recited during the morning service by thousands of Kohanim during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of the festival of Passover. It is also recited during the intermediate days of the festival of Sukkot.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews come to visit and pray at the Western Wall in the Old City in Jerusalem during this holiday, and many arrive only for the purpose of being present to receive this special blessing.

Anti-Terror Airport Squads Briefed on Tefillin and Matzah

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Transportation Security Administration has made its employees aware the Jews with a kippa and praying with tefillin are not necessarily terrorists.

This good news should help Jews relax when praying at the airport or on the airplane during the Passover holiday.

This is no laughing matter.

When a Jewish teen put on his tefillin and prayed on board a US Airways four years ago, the crew panicked and aborted the flight from LaGuardia Airport, landing in Philadelphia amid unfounded fears of a terrorist bomb.

The tefillin’s two small Scripture-filled boxes were a bit strange to the nervous crew. After all, they could be explosives inside. Or maybe a collapsible Uzi.

And those straps! There are two straps hanging down from the tefillin that are put on the head, and there is a strap on one arm, so who knows? Someone who never saw tefillin in his life could run away with his imagination and suspect that the straps could be wires from an explosive device.

The plane landed, and the boy, a lot more scared than the crew, was met by police, the FBI and bomb-sniffing dogs

And he didn’t even get a chance to pray.

A similar incident the following year caused the pilots of an Alaska Airlines flight to lock down the cockpit and alert authorities because of three Orthodox Jews with tefillin on the flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.

When the same thing happened on a flight in New Zealand, the country’s Race Relations Commissioner said the armed response was unfortunate and showed “an exaggerated fear of terrorism.”

So this time, TSA is prepared and instructing staffers that tefillin are not bombs, the kippa is not designed to hide a bomb, and matzah is not a bomb.

“Our workforce is aware of the unique items carried by individuals and religious practices individuals may engage in while traveling,” said a TSA statement. This may include reading of religious text or participating in prayer rituals. Observant travelers may be wearing a head covering, prayer shawl, and phylacteries — in Hebrew, kippa, tallit, and tefillin.”

The TSA has also informed baggage inspectors to be careful with matzah packages.

Perhaps they have explained to them that matzah is not suspicious cardboard. Hopefully, workers understand that they are not to be munching on any cookies made with leavened bread when checking matzah packages

“Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzah, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual. Matzah can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily,

“Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzah, may request a hand inspection by the TSO of the items at the security checkpoint.” TSO is the abbreviation for Transport Security Officer.

Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for Orthodox congregations, expressed its “profound thanks” for the notice, stating that the agency has been deeply sensitive to our community’s needs and concerns on this and many issues.”

But if a worker does accidentally break a matzah in half, who gets the Afikomen

(JTA contributed to this report.)

Below is the TV report of the tefillin-bomb scare four years ago.

US Soldiers Getting First New Siddur Since World War II

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

A prayer book developed for use by Jews in the U.S. military will be released this week, the first of its type published since World War II.

Reform, Orthodox and Conservative rabbis cooperated in creating the prayer book, which was commissioned by the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council.

The chaplains’ council, a program of the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, which is holding its conference this week, received permission to reprint Hebrew and English texts from other prayer books in the new siddur.

“We had the ability to move freely through their prayer books, allowing us to create a book that each rabbi can use differently,” said retired Rear Adm. Rabbi Harold Robinson, director of the council. “Yet for each soldier, sailor or Marine, it will be the same, no matter where he or she is stationed.”

In recent years, Jewish chaplains and lay leaders leading services have used a variety of books, according to their personal preference, which meant that service personnel had to adapt to a new prayer book when moving to a  different base.

The book includes a foreword by President Obama.

What Is and Isn’t Wrong with Prayer

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

The way most of us pray today is very different to the way it was originally intended. What goes on in most Jewish “houses of prayer” of whatever community, denomination, sect, or form is usually far from an exciting, uplifting spiritual experience.

According to Maimonides (Laws of Prayer Chapter 1:11), it remains a Torah obligation to relate to the Almighty every day and in one’s own way, regardless of what may or may not happen in a synagogue. The Hebrew “to pray” is Lehitpallel, which literally means “to express oneself”. How many people do? We tend to rely entirely on what other people have said. Yet the formal prayers we have were initially only intended to be a menu of suggested ideas for those who could not find the words themselves.

There is a dichotomy between personal, private prayer and public communal prayer. Their functions are entirely different. The Torah ideal remains that individuals should find spontaneous, subjective, and personal ways of connecting with how they understand the Divine presence. This is what is called “Deveykut”, actually engaging with God. This can rarely be done in a crowded synagogue surrounded by others who often have no interest in such activity. It cannot be done while a cantor performs, and most of all it cannot be done “on command”. Sometimes for a moment, such as Kol Nidrei, this effect can be achieved. But it rarely survives long. Only in a very few situations, such as those yeshivot with a strong tradition of prayer, does one experience extended concentration and excitement. For the average Jew living in no such rarified situation, synagogues in general simply do not offer this experience of the Divine. The Great Synagogue in Alexandria, where flags were waved to let distant parts of the building know when to say Amen (TB Sukah 21b), cannot possibly have been a place of personal engagement with Heaven.

The services we have nowadays perform very different functions. They are primarily to give us a sense of community and to actually get people together in ways that most religious obligations do not. Judaism makes demands on us both as individuals and as members of the community of Israel. Personal prayer remained personal. Yet over time personal prayers and petitions were incorporated into the “prayer” format, for convenience.

Herded into claustrophobic, foul ghettos, under Christianity and Islam, most Jews wanted to escape the overcrowded hovels they often shared with animals. The synagogue was the only large and airy building in the community where one could go to chat and study as well as pray. One needed to come and leave together for safety. That was where they wanted to be and to spend as much time as possible. No wonder the services got longer and longer.

The prevailing culture was also one in which any educated persons expressed themselves in poetry. Hence the great payyatanim, who spread under Islam from Israel to Spain to Northern Europe and churned out religious poetry in formal structures and conventions that were incorporated into services but no longer resonate with most of us.

The great mystic Rabbi Yitzhak Luria was responsible for introducing songs, for walking out into the fields, praying on the hills of Safed. The attempt to experience God moved from man-made structures to nature and back. The existential aspect of prayer, its singing and ecstasy as much as its communal aspect, influenced the great Chasidic reformation. But then like all revolutions, over time it lost its iconoclasm and creativity and sank back into formality. Still to this day in many Chasidic courts you will hear singing and ecstatic prayer that would be unimaginable in most synagogues in the West.

Jewish-Muslim Altercation Leads to Temple Mount Shutdown

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was closed to visitors on Sunday, after a fight had reportedly broken out between Jewish visitors and Muslim worshipers.

According to JTA, citing Israeli media, Jews visiting the site Sunday morning reportedly began singing Hanukkah songs and praying. In response a group of Muslim worshipers attacked them.

But the Tazpit News Agency reported that three groups of foreign tourists were permitted to enter the temple Mount compound, while 36 Jews were stopped at the entrance. And another group of some 300 tourists were stopped as well.

Isaac Lampert, a reporter for Tazpit, who is getting married tonight, was in line waiting to enter the Temple Mount and was among the Jews police were blocking. Lampert commented that it was a shame to have Israeli police prevent Jews from entering the site of the very Temple the Maccabees purified and re-opened more than 2,000 years ago.

Two Jews and two Muslims were arrested at the site Sunday.

Jews generally are not permitted to pray or bring any ritual objects to the Temple Mount, which is considered Judaism’s holiest site, in order to avoid confrontation with Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aksa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The site is overseen by the Muslim Wakf, the Muslim religious administration charged with managing the Temple Mount site.

The Temple Mount was closed to non-Muslim visitors during this year’s Sukkot holiday over fears that Muslims would be incited to violence by the crowds.

Days later on Oct. 14, the Temple Mount was shut down to visitors after police removed 10 Jewish men for praying and singing. The men were detained after praying and bowing on the Temple Mount, then singing “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, waving an Israeli flag and dancing.

About an hour before the incident, police detained three other Jewish men for questioning after they prayed and bowed during a tour of the Temple Mount.

 

Both JTA and Tazpit contributed to this report.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-muslim-altercation-leads-to-temple-mount-shutdown/2013/12/01/

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