Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back in Jerusalem! Gay Pride and Selichot

I'm now back in Jerusalem. I've come for three weeks, to spend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur here. After that, I'm going to Germany because I have received a fellowship to do research at the Ruhr-Universität in Bochum, in northwestern Germany. I will be at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg, "Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe" until mid-August 2015. My research project is "Angels’ Tongues and Witches’ Curses: Jewish Women and Ritual Power in Late Antiquity."

I spent the last two months in the US getting ready - cleaning up and renting my house, moving my office, tying up the loose ends at work - and now the year is finally starting. While I'm in Jerusalem I'll be going to the National Library and working on a book review for the upcoming SBL annual meeting in San Diego. (I'm participating in a book review session on Jim Davila's translation of much of the Hekhalot literature - Hekhalot Literature in Translation).

On Thursday night, I went to the Jerusalem gay pride march. It was originally scheduled for earlier in the year, in August, but because of the war, it was postponed until September. I was very glad to get to go - for several years it's been held in August, when I'm usually back in Ithaca after my summer stint in Jerusalem. About 2,000 people came - fewer than in years past, but still a nice lively crowd.

Part of the giant flag held by Meretz Jerusalem supporters

Pepe Alalu, leader of the Meretz-Labor party in the Jerusalem city council, being interviewed by Walla.
The sign reads: "Orthodox women, straight women, and supporters!" The small signs read: "Religious women supporters"

Students from the youth movement of the Conservative movement in support of LGBT rights
The band playing before the march started.

On the way - walking up King George Street
Turning down Agron St. to Independence Park
People in Independence Park
Tonight I went to selichot (a special service of penitential prayers held on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah). It was held at the Tahana Rishonah (the entirely renovated Jerusalem train station on Derekh Hevron). This is not the usual place for the selichot service, which is usually held in the synagogue, but the Tahana hosts many alternative prayer services, usually on Friday afternoons before Shabbat begins. This time, the Zion congregation organized the service, and it was wonderful. To see some photos, go to Facebook. In the summer, a friend in Jerusalem brought me to this congregation for Friday night services, and it's the only place I went then. I'll also be going there for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. It was organized only about a year ago, and is very musically oriented, in both the Ashkenazi and Mizrachi traditions. It's a Masorti congregation that is open to everyone and calls itself an "Eretz-Israel congregation." "Eretz Israel" literally means "land of Israel," and what they mean is that Jews of all kinds are welcome, and that it is a melding of all of the traditions of Jews living in Israel. The rabbi is Tamar Elad Appelbaum, who is a wonderful spiritual leader.

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