Summary of Beit Tefilah Israeli’s Bar Mitzvah
Facing inward towards our community and outward towards the entire Israeli society, we celebrated 13 years of activity.
At a good and successful time, we have reached the age of Mitzvot. Thirteen years have passed since a handful of men and women gathered for the first time for Kabbalat Shabbat at Beit Alma and said we will do and ask! Let’s not complain that we didn’t find a suitable framework to celebrate Shabbat together, let’s take it into our own hands and start experimenting.
Thus began a community experiment that was fascinating, empowering, moving, growing and has been continuing for already 13 years. On Shabbat Parshat Balak, both the old and new gathered to celebrate together the miracle that happened to us and continues to happen.
None of those who responded to the subversive call in the postcards distributed then — such as “Tel Aviv the holy city, Shabbat evening…” or “Prayer can be something different than what you thought…” — did not imagine that 13 years later we would become a leading community and organization in one of Israel’s most important social revolutions of today: The Movement for the Renewal of Judaism in Israel.
And so, facing inward towards our community and outward towards the entire Israeli society, we celebrated 13 years of activity. It began on Friday with a magical Kabbalat Shabbat at the Tel Aviv Port in which more than 900 people joined us.
Men and women, individuals and families, young and old, Tel Avivians and visitors, Israelis alongside Jews from the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Germany…Beit Tefilah Israeli’s Kabbalat Shabbat at the Tel Aviv Port has become living proof that it is possible to maintain a stable bridge between Israeli Judaism and Diaspora Jewry. “Here we don’t have the Western Wall, there is only a sea,” writes Eli Mohar in his poem “Tel Avivian Prayer” – and this is good. When we pray at the sea, there are no barriers, no space for women and no space for men, no area for native Jewish Israelis and no space for Diaspora Jews, but rather one large space that fills the beach with music, prayer and hope.
The next day we gathered in a festive and celebratory way. Thirteen years of activity is a very honorable time. This is the age in which you go from childhood to adulthood. Thirteen years has taught us how an idea that stems from a deep, inner need has come to life thanks to loyal friends who have been on this path with us over the years.
This gathering on Shabbat morning reminded us how important our joint work is and allowed us to thank and cherish the place we are in and the people with us. It is possible, for a moment, to look back at the pictures, the videos, to listen to the large amount of music we created and just smile and to be filled with pride.
Those who were not able to join the event, or who wish to recall, the venue was filled with members from ages 0 to 120, three generations of community members, some of whom were already with small children. There is nothing more emotional than the understanding that there is someone who will continue the path, who was actually born into it.
And the Bar Mitzvah was like a Bar Mitzvah. We prayed Shacharit, divided the Aliyot according to the pillars of Beit Tefilah Israeli: the pillar of prayer, the pillar of learning, the pillar of volunteering and social action, the pillar of community, the pillar of the life cycle, the pillar of leadership and the pillar of the vision of Israeli Judaism. Members went up to the Torah out of solidarity and their personal connection to the various pillars of Beit Tefilah Israeli. In addition, we also held the “L’dor l’dor” (generation to generation) ceremony in which we asked members from all three generous to bless Beit Tefilah Israeli. This included old community members, young community members and children.
Beit Tefilah Israeli’s Bar Mitzvah celebration also was an opportunity for us to express our sincere gratitude to our partner Mr. Steve Stulman – head of the Julius Stulman Foundation – whose generous vision and support has accompanied us from the beginning until now.
On the occasion of of the Bar Mitzvah, we dedicated Beit Tefilah Israeli’s main and shared creation, “Siddur Erev Shabbat and Festivals” to our dear friend. A copy of this dedication that will be published in all of our future siddur editions.