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A High Holiday embrace

15 0 6

If you ever want to experience a truly fervent prayer service, go to High Holiday services at one of Israel’s hospitals.

That’s where I found myself this year on Rosh Hashanah, on the balcony of the eighth floor of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, surrounded by people who were caring for their hospitalized loved ones or who were hospitalized loved ones themselves.

Upstairs, on the 10th floor, my husband Leonard (known as Eliezer in Hebrew) lay in the cardiac intensive care unit, ventilated and sedated, recuperating from the sudden death that he experienced some 25 hours before the holiday, when he collapsed, lifeless, after a game of squash that he played for his health.

The words of U’netaneh Tokef – “Who shall live, and who shall die? Who at the end of his days and who not at the end of his days?” — become unbearable when you have a loved one who is teetering between worlds. Leonard is not yet 60 and cares for scores of ventilated children at ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem in his work as a doctor. During the Musaf service on the first day of the holiday, the thought, “It’s not his time,” crowded out any other personal prayers that I might have had for myself or any other members of my family.

On the second day of the holiday, my prayer situation was worse. During the supplementary Musaf service, I found myself unable to focus on anything other than the prayers that were ascending to the heavens on my right. On the bench next to me was a young ultra-Orthodox woman, her hair meticulously tucked........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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