Saturday, January 16, 2010

One of the Coolest Things

The rest of the work day flew buy and then it was time to start the weekend! After swinging buy Macy's to pick up a few items, I met L and J for dinner and then it was off to a very special Shabbat service.

The 6th and I synagogue hosted its 6th annual MLK Shabbat: Visions of Justice and Freedom. The event was co-hosted with the Turner Memorial AME Church and was one of the coolest experiences I think I've had in my time in DC.

I don't often attend Shabbat services in DC because I haven't found one in particular that I really like. However, everything about last night's experience was incredible. I would estimate that there were over 400 people who attended the service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Church members, young Jewish professionals, and adults and families from an area synagogue sat, prayed, and danced alongside one another in honor of these two people who weren't afraid to stand up for what was right.

The words of Dr. King were eloquently woven into the service and we were also reminded of how Heschel "prayed with his feet" alongside Dr. King in support of the Civil Rights movement. I couldn't help but think back to this weekend, exactly one year ago, as our country prepared to inaugurate its first African American president. The city was abuzz with excitement and change and the patriotism and optimism that abounded was inspiring.



Last night, I felt inspired once again, yet for different reasons.  Hands-down, my favorite part of the night were the gospel prayers which members from Turner Memorial AME led us in. I found the words of those prayers to be inspiring, and was so excited to jump to my feet to clap, sway, have fun, and be present in that moment.  The Jewish prayers which were also recited had just as much energy behind them and at moments the scene felt familiar - it was like I was at a Shabbat service at camp or in Israel. The prayers were filled with ruach (spirit) and the entire congregation seemed to come together as one.

The service ended with everyone in the sanctuary holding hands, across aisles and all, so that we were all connected. We sang "We Shall Overcome" as we kept in mind the tragedy which has unfolded in Haiti, the struggles our country has gone through, and were reminded of the optimism of bringing people together. The pastor remarked that we came together in the spirit of multiculturalism, and I for one am extremely proud to have honored the work and lives of these men on this important holiday weekend!

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