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A Sanctuary in Our Homes

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I have a dance studio in my house. No, there are no mirrors, or bars, but there is an open space with a yoga block in the middle, to delineate the center of a circle. My spouse Matthew is an excellent Israeli dancer, and ever since the Coronavirus pandemic began, his only dancing outlet has been the dance lessons that he patiently gives me in our basement, despite my challenges with memorizing choreography. Rabbi Kling Perkins’ home dance studio

One evening several months ago, we were on his computer, participating in a world-wide dance session on Zoom. At first, we just planned to watch. Dancing together with people on Zoom? Too weird. We figured we’d just tune in for a few minutes, then do something else. But then, something changed. Out of the thousands of songs that have Israeli dances written for them, they were playing Darkeinu, one of the very few dances that I knew! I grabbed the computer, ran downstairs to our improvised dance studio, and danced along.

That was the only dance they played that I knew, but after that, we stayed there for an hour, riveted to the computer. As I stood looking at the other dancers, I saw how they had each created dance studios in their homes, just like we had, using household items to mark the center of a circle. Some people danced in their kitchens or their living rooms, with their kitchen appliances visible behind them. One woman had moved her furniture and used tape to delineate a circle on her tile floor. One man was outside, dancing around his water bottle. Some people had a partner with them, while many danced alone. Being part of that Zoom meeting, I felt surprisingly emotional. After all, I’m not even a big dancer! If Covid didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t have joined an in-person session that night. However, there was something intimate and moving about being welcomed into the homes of people I had never met, from across North America, South America, and Israel. As much as dancing on Zoom has its challenges, and let me tell you, it definitely has its drawbacks, there was something uniquely powerful about how we came together.

In the past several months, our homes have been transformed in ways we never would have imagined. Out of necessity, we have turned our homes into the places where much of our lives take place, and as a result, both our homes and the activities we now do in them have been transformed. Our homes have become offices, dance studios, special effects studios, audio recording studios, art studios, performance venues, hair salons, gyms and, yes, synagogues, and so much more. Moreover, we have learned to engage in many activities in new and different ways.

These dramatic changes, of course, were forced on us by a loss. Because of Coronavirus, we have lost, mostly temporarily, sometimes permanently, many of the public spaces that had previously been integral to our daily lives.

This is not the first time that Jews have lost a central gathering place, a place for communal worship and connection, a place for individuals to join with a larger whole. Two thousand years ago, the Jewish world lost its central gathering place. The place where public religious rituals occurred, where the entire Israelite community converged on holidays, was destroyed. Jerusalem was decimated. The Temple in Jerusalem was gone.

At that point, the Jews could have done what other communities around them had done when their temples were destroyed. They could have said– if our worship place is gone, then we’re done existing as a group. We can’t bring our sacrifices, we can’t........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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