Since I've been so remiss in blogging, I neglected to report about my seminal davening moment since arriving here. Our friends, Haviva and Jacob Ner-David, celebrated their 2nd child, Adin's BarM in late August. The Ner-David's are an idiosyncratic clan - they daven in many different places of varying practice and religious style. Haviva, who has an Orthodox ordination that is controversial to some, is also the author of a great book on women's issues, feminism and Orthodoxy. Jacob, a successful business guy and local venture capitalist, went to high school with Jessica (of course, there is the Jessica connection) back in the old country. They have 6 great kids and Gabe goes to school with many of them at the Democratic School. What makes both Jacob and Haviva even more interesting is their absolute devotion to the environment, co-existence projects locally and generally, things that are good for the world, both from a Jewish and non-religious perspective.
The BarM was at the Southern Wall, right by Robinson's Arch. For those of you who haven't been, think of it as the Kotel, extended. It's a great site, with wonderful historical high points, from the staircase that the Kohanim ascended to reach the Temple Mount to the ancient grafitti near the arch, which essentially says, 'we'll be back.' The area has been designated for the 'non-Orthodox' to have services without offending anyone. The BarM was called for 8am and as we arrived, we were pleased to note the varying areas of men and women. There was the men's area (loosely defined by an obvious group of guys but this grew to later include a mixed group nearby as well), the women's area, and in the middle mixed seating. Davening was led in an a somewhat central area - I should add that davening took a long time, as Haviva and Jacob are afficianados of the Leeder Minyan, which is known for it's looooong and spiritual services. It was Rosh Hodesh as well, meaning lots more to do before eating brunch.
I had been asked to lead Mussaf Rosh Hodesh and I was uptight. What would it be like to get up and lead Mussaf in this very mixed crowd? I worried about this for a while and then reminded myself that Haviva wouldn't have asked me without thinking through this matter and moreover, anybody who knows Jacob and Haviva and came today, might expect that leadership could be either men or women. Then, I realized that I'd be leading duchening/Kohanic blessing as well. This was a wild concept as I'd be doing it in Jerusalem, in mixed company, at the Wall! I must admit that even I, the cynical, 'oh it's just the kotel' was somewhat pleased. I had to rush my repetition as time was short, which was fine with me, but as I got to the blessings, I enjoyed the moment and the rush.
2 hours ago