Thursday, March 13, 2014

All Together - Now and Forever

Unity. That seems to be the buzz word of the day and the season. From the theme of the upcoming Purim holiday (this Sunday, 14 Adar/March 16) to the HUGE gatherings of Jews
700,000 Strong in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 2
that have taken place around the world in recent weeks and most hugely in Jerusalem (can you spot Zevy in the photo?) to pray and protest peacefully against certain government policies in Israel. In a few hours, on this special day of Taanis Esther (the Fast of Esther), the Baltimore community will add its voice to the chorus, spiritually connecting us to our brethren across the globe and especially in our holy Land.

When I think of Jewish unity, I picture the women at (not "of" or "for" - just "at") the Wall. Women from every walk and way of life sharing a passion for the holiest place on Earth.
On my numerous visits to the Wall during my recent month in Israel, this unity was particularly apparent to me when I looked down at the feet of the women standing side-by-side in prayer.

The spectrum of foot and leg wear made an amazing statement. Where else can one find chassidic women shoulder-to-shoulder with their secular sisters, jeans alongside flowing or tapered skirts, casual flip-flops sharing a square with fancy spike heels, American tourist sitting next to her seventh-generation Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite) sister

and, of course, the ever-present green khakis and army boots of the chayelet (female IDF soldier). All together. All praying for themselves, their loved ones, their People. All turning to the One Who will answer their prayers for the best.
And when I think about those women at the Wall, one song plays over and over in my head - a relatively recent hit on the Jewish music scene: "Am Echad" - One Nation. You've gotta hear it, watch it, sing it, dance it, internalize it. Loosely translated (so that it rhymes in English), here's the chorus:
One nation, one song, come dear sisters, sing along. Take my hand, rejoice and dance. As one person with one heart, I don't want to be apart. Forever, we will all be together.
I can't pass up this timely opportunity to remember an individual who personified Jewish unity and unconditional love for every Jew. Rabbi Meir Schuster, of blessed memory, passed away last month on the 17th of February/Adar I. You can read about my - and Bill's - personal connection to this giant of a man on the website that was created to help raise funds for his family during his long, difficult illness. But don't just read my story - read them all. Each one is an inspirational tribute to Reb Meir and the amazing legacy that he leaves.

Bill and I are eternally grateful that on the very last day of our recent trip to Israel, Bill was able to visit Reb Meir, to thank him and pray for him - just three weeks before Reb Meir's soul returned to its Maker.

One cannot Remember Jerusalem without recalling the man who stood at the Wall for 40 years and with one short, simple question ("Do you have the time?" Or "Would you like to meet a wise man?") brought thousands of Jews home to their heritage.
Rabbi Meir Schuster, zt"l
This blog post is dedicated to his memory and to the hope that we will keep his holy message of unity and love for every Jew in our hearts and share it with our sisters and brothers. Forever.

"Lech k'nos es kol haYehudim..."
(Go gather together all the Jews - to fast/pray for me...)
- Queen Esther to Mordechai.HaTzaddik (The Book of Esther, 4:16)

Wishing you a meaningful Taanis Esther and a joyful Purim!


  1. What a beautiful photoessay from the Kotel - really simple and poignant, all at once :)
    Purim Sameach!

  2. Unfortunately, the huge rally in Jerusalem was about anything BUT Jewish unity. Sigh.

  3. My apologies to you, Bracha, and to anyone else who was offended or hurt by the original opening paragraph of this post. I thank you for opening my eyes to sentiments I was not fully aware of or sensitive to. I have edited that paragraph to reflect those sentiments and my Purim included prayers for true achdus/t (unity), appreciation, love and peace (the 60's had its good points!) between and among Jews of all stripes.