These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

A special davening.

Posted on December 16, 2013 by Andrea Wiese

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Andrea WieseThere was something very special about this morning’s davening (praying) that I don’t always feel. But it started way before my friend started to sing pesukei d’zimra (the opening blessings).

This morning wasn’t your average morning, yes, we came early for davening at 7am like other days, but it was difficult. After the Jerusalem snow storm and two days of canceled school, the roads were still ice. My friend/ roommate and I slipped and slid our way to school, grabbing on to each other many times in order not to fall. We laughed and took pictures of crazy things we saw on our way.

 Gorgeous sunrise, but also note the accident that already happened...

Gorgeous sunrise, but also note the accident that already happened…

Uh oh....

Uh oh….

Sliding down the street!

Sliding down the street!

I really questioned why I was on the street before 7am to go pray. But… we went. And we made it safely. Only three of us were there after we brought the Torah downstairs (the only place in the building with heat) but we looked at each other with excitement. We were going to pray, and be together and be warm and support each other. When Carolyn started, she said, “you better sing with me!” And we happily did. Soon more women came, and prayed and sang with us.  We were still a small group, only seven of us, but it felt like a lot. And in a gentle way, it felt strong.

Naomi led shachrit, which I had never heard her do before, and in her soft, sweet voice there was so much beauty. I read the first two aliyot of Shemot, which was exciting in its own accord because everyone at Pardes has been studying sefer Shemot and most classes just finished the first parsha. I felt a lot when I sang it, but not nerves like usual. There was an excitement to read/hear the story and continue our journey through the Torah. I think we all connected to the reading in our own way. Candace read the third aliyah which included Puah and Shifra, the first two powerful and influential women we run into in Shemot.

Everyone smiled, even in questions, answers, clarifications, and corrections. Everyone was supportive. I felt so good. My dear friend, (who is known to have a bit an anxiety at times) read the bracha for the Torah reading with confidence and not a hint of hesitation in her voice. She made me very proud and I was excited to be the one reading the aliyah.

I don’t think I need to restate how special this morning’s women’s tefilla was to me. But I do want to say that I feel so lucky to have a community in which it is possible to create such a safe space. I know at the end of the year, I won’t be able to take this for granted, as I am already searching for communities in the US for which this can exist and thrive. But for now, thank you Pardes, thank you Naomi and Melissa, and thank you women of Pardes who are always there to support me.