Posted on March 27, 2015 by Tmima Shupack
Today at 4:55am I was ushered into my day by the Muslim call to prayer from the bed of my home stay in Istanbul. This was the perfect beginning to my day, as I and the whole of our group needed to be ready at 5:30am to board the bus that would take us to the town of Edirne for the grand reopening and rededication of the towns last remaining synagogue. The anticipation and excitement surrounding the day was sharp as we boarded the bus full of eager and emotional community members.
We arrived in Edirne with a convoy of other buses enthusiastically waiting to be the first Jews to daven in the renovated synagogue, in over thirty years (the Jewish community in Edirne no longer exists). The synagogue was beautiful, huge and full of emotion. For the first time in over thirty years Jews were praying once more in Edirne. This started the day off on a beautifully sentimental note. However the peak of my emotional experience and connection to the day was with a eighty year old woman at the rededication ceremony in the synagogue, which was filled with about one thousand people.As I stood dancing and singing with other members of our group I noticed a beautifully pious, joyful older woman smiling and laughing at our simcha for the event. We caught each others eyes, gave me a huge smile and continued to clap her hands in only what I can assume was amazement for the scene of the revival of a community and synagogue that was once nonexistent. Soon we started to speak in Hebrew, a uniting source of tradition and hope for what the future has to give us. We spoke about her family, her love for Israel, Judaism, and the Jewish people. Her love for the Jewish people and tradition was inspirational, her emotion when davening was breathtaking. She welcomed me in with open arms and I her. Our raw connection is something that I will cherish and remember forever. In my eyes our connection was a microcosm for the whole of the event––joining tradition and modernity and most importantly that Jewish unity and understanding is present and a necessity for the progression of the Jewish people.