I have to say, after Shabbat at the Tel Aviv port, aka, the Namal, I may never want to go back inside!
After a full day of exploring Tel Aviv, from the Ayalon Institute to lunch at Abulafia Bakery, to exploring Nachalat Binyamin with all the the artists sharing their crafts, we ended up at the Tel Aviv port, aka, the Namal.
Beit Tefilah Israeli is a group who started holding services at the Namal about 6 years ago. The vision is to create a Jewish life experience for all Jews, especially Tel Aviv’s diverse secular Jewish community. Jewish practice in Israel was once relegated only to the Orthodox, but Israel’s entire community is discovering that they too can enjoy the beauty of Jewish life through Shabbat and celebrating through life cycles together. More and more Israelis are discovering that a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah (Bat of course being more recent) can be celebrated with understanding of what is actually taking place versus just being called for an aliyah to Torah and then never setting foot in the synagogue again. Services like that at the Namal and the many other progressive synagogues in Israel are opening new doors for all Israelis to find their connection to community through prayer and a Jewish spiritual self.
We arrived at the Namal as the leaders from Beit Tefilah were doing a final sound check and the chairs were set facing the Mediterranean. We stopped at Aroma, a local coffee shop on the pier, for an ice coffee – which I have to say should become a new tradition before services. 🙂 At 6:30 pm, hundreds of people started to arrive. They were sitting on the chairs, playing on the pier – some dressed in white, others in shorts and t-shirts riding bikes with their children. All coming to welcome Shabbat.
The music began and at first, it seemed more like some were there for a concert. But after a few minutes and a gentle applause after the first of the Kabbalat Shabbat Psalms, we all began to realize that this was no concert, this was our coming together to welcome Shabbat and acknowledge all that we are thankful for in our week and who we were able to share this moment with.
As the sun began to set in the Mediterranean, we stood chanting L’cha Dodi – לכה דודי by Nava Tehila“, facing the sea as we welcomed Shabbat in all of her beauty.
The breeze coming off the water was as if Shabbat herself came to kiss us and welcome us to this moment in our week. God’s creation laid before us to appreciate in all of the awesomeness that we sometimes forget to acknowledge. And here we were, one people singing and praying together.
As the service ended and the final Adon Olam was sung, everyone started off in different directions on the pier. Yet, there were still songs on our lips and as I passed different families singing and strolling, I couldn’t help but be swept up into their song.