Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ROSH HASHANAH IN EGYPT

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish celebration of the first day of the Creation or New Years takes place in many communities all over the world. Sometimes the conditions are very precarious or strained under local influences or by intolerance of others.

I thought that it might be of interest to share this email from an American college student who is taking a year of study abroad. He is interested in Diplomatic Service and especially the Muslim world so chose before the “Arabic Spring” to study in Egypt where he is at present’

He was desirous of attending High Holy Day’s services in a congregation setting.

"I was finally able to get in touch with the community here. I just got back from services, which were quite interesting. The synagogue had a few army trucks outside and about 50 soldiers guarding the synagogue. I had to answer questions for about 10 minutes before they let me inside, even though my name was on the list.

There were about 50 or so people at the service, most of them foreigners. The service itself was strange and very quick -- the rabbi (who looked like he came straight from Las Vegas in his white suit and shoes) read the entire service without hardly any participation. It was so non-participatory that if I didn't take the initiative to stand up for the Amidah or the opening of the ark, no one would have even known.

The service ended quickly, but I had a chance to chat with a few people. I met about 5 people who work for the American embassy (one who grew up in Beachwood and another who lived on Fernway for four years). They invited me to dinner at their place tomorrow night. After the services, there was dinner at the temple, which was really tasty. I ended up sitting with the Austrian ambassador and his wife! We had a very interesting conversation. There are services again tomorrow morning at 10:30. I'll go for the heck of it, but I miss Kol Halev services.

L'shana tova!”

The stress of worshiping as one wishes is not limited to just Jews but can be for anyone of any faith in a country ruled by a dogmatic religious culture or state religion. Thank goodness we live here protected by the 1st Amendment. We must protect that right even when we disagree with otheres.

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