The Streets of Jerusalem

August 30, 2013

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Shabbat message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, August 30, 2013.

The Streets of Jerusalem

Once again will be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of rejoicing and the voice of happiness, the voice of a groom and the voice of a bride.

This prayer/blessing/song in the blessings said at weddings is based on the Prophet Jeremiah’s prediction in Jeremiah, chapter 33. Jeremiah, who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, expresses the conviction that in spite of great tragedy, Jerusalem will be restored and happiness will return to the streets of Jerusalem. And... we’ve seen the fulfillment of his ancient words in our own times. Music, of course, has always been part of any rejoicing – especially in Jerusalem. Last week saw a huge sacred music festival: sacred music from all religious traditions was performed in venues all over Jerusalem. Next week, between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur a “Piyut” festival will have performances every day... Piyutim are sacred Hebrew poems, many of which are sung in synagogues throughout the High Holy Days. So, indeed, the voice of rejoicing and the voice of happiness have been restored to the streets of Jerusalem.

And it’s the streets of Jerusalem that so often reflect the unique nature of the Sabbath in this amazing city. The traffic thins out here on the streets of Jerusalem as the afternoons on Fridays approach sunset and the Sabbath. No, not everyone here is religious, and not everyone refrains from driving on the Sabbath; but, nonetheless, there is a special quiet that descends on the city during the Shabbat. Friday evenings, one can walk the streets of Jerusalem hearing prayers from the various synagogues. People walk through the alleyways on their way to Sabbath dinners carrying bottles of wine, or bowls of fruit salad, or whatever they’re bringing to their hosts, or perhaps just returning home from schul to their own homes for dinner. In Hebrew, a Sabbath dinner is called “Se’udat Shabat,” a Sabbath Banquet. Even secular families have family Shabbat dinners, perhaps with a “lechayim” rather than a Kiddush. And the streets of Jerusalem are quiet. Even those who would normally drive on the Sabbath prefer to walk rather than disturbing the Sabbath peace. Of all the cities in the world, Jerusalem is the most special on the Sabbath . . . especially on the Sabbath. 

Jerusalem Alley at Night

Jerusalem Alley During the Day

Jerusalem Alley During the Day

Shabbat Shalom

Are there particular Shabbat foods that are traditional in your family? Let us know! jhirsh@jccmilwaukee.org