Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sh'Asani Israel - Davinning in Airports


Okay, I’m back.  I just finished davening shacharit at the airport. The sunrise contains the most beautiful hues of oranges and pinks ranging from the deepest deep to the palest of pale. What an amazing sight to see as one says Baruch She’amar… and wonders at the work of creation!

But it was also a bit strange, okay, very strange, saying this shacharit. Here I am, a woman, in a turquoise silk tallit, beaded red/gold kippah, and tefillin, saying her prayers in one of the most public and to me, foreign, spaces I’ve ever prayed in. The words and customs took on new meanings the standing and sitting, the bowing here and there, the occasional beating of the breast. To say I felt self conscious would be an understatement. I couldn’t lose myself in the prayers or in the beauty of the sunrise because of my surroundings – lots of people who are not praying, most aren’t Jewish, not an orthodox person in sight (am I actually missing the dati’im in Jerusalem! Oy va voi!) and of the course the background music that for some reason is alternating between Christmas and some sort of country-western music.

So here are some of the prayers/words that jumped out at me:
She’asyani Israel – who created me a Jew
Shelo Asayin goy – okay, these words aren’t in the Sim Shalom conservative siddur I was using but they were screaming in my head anyway, wanting to be heard.
Jump to the Amidah with – oh just about all of it… and I felt thankful that I automatically add “v’kol yoshvei tevel” (and all who reside in the world)  at the end of my oseh shalom these days.
And then the big finish – Aleinu -  talking about those other nations, idol worship, all eventually uniting with the One Gd… at least there weren’t any teens dancing a box step to Aleinu with me but still…

So what does this say about me? I prayed with tallit and tefilin in an airport, something I’ve never done before. Sure, I’ve davenned misc services when waiting in an (almost) all Jewish space to go to Israel but there were other people davenning then too. And I’d hadn’t worn tefillin at those times – was usually ma’ariv. I prayed but was uncomfortable. But it felt like the right thing to do.

I’m glad I davenned – it fulfilled my need to continue my spiritual practice of daily davenning that I’d lost when I entered rabbinical school and reacquired during my tenure in Israel. I’ve been trying to figure out if the whole keva/kavanna discussion works here but I’m not sure – I am davening out of a sense of obligation and responsibility, but not sure if I am doing it out of a sense of commandness or because it feels like the right thing to do at this time of my life. So much to think about… to blog about… aren’t you all so lucky?

The sunrise at the airport; picture doesn't do it justice but you get the point: