Saturday, October 24, 2009

Poland -- Kielce Shabbaton

Michael Traison, who organized the Shabbaton last weekend in the Polish city of Kielce, has passed on some reaction to the event, which brought Jewish religious services to the century-old synagogue in the city for the first time since World War II The synagogue was totally rebuilt after the war and has served as the district archive since 1951. Fotos of the event have been posted of the very comprehensive Shabbaton Web Site.

This is what one participant wrote:
From childhood I used to listen to my parents descriptions of the Kielce synagogue. This synagogue was the symbol and pride of the Jewish community of Kielce. It was like Jerusalem for the Jews in Kielce and their center of life. It appeared on every document, book, letterhead related to Jewish Kielce. It was the community icon. Whenever I told somebody that I visited the synagogue they asked me whether the wonderful ceiling paintings are still there.  

I am not a religious person, I don't know to pray and if I went to synagogue it was mainly during my and my sons bar mitzvah when I also "went up to the Tora" - keeping the Jewish tradition. I never had a dream to pray at any specific place, or at all, neither in the Kielce synagogue but apparently when it happened it became another bar Mitzvah for me.

When I was 13 years old I went up to the Tora in our local synagogue surrounded by all my family members and friends. Being a good musician, I learned to sing the Brachot, Aftara and Maftir as a real Hazan. I remember very well the excitement and how my parents were proud. This was almost 50 years ago.

Last weekend I was standing there in the Kielce synagogue during the praying, once again surrounded with many friends, Jews and non Jews among them the chief Rabbi of Poland. I slowly started to feel excited and realized that I am celebrating a second bar mitzvah but this time without the presence of my family members. Then instead of looking into the Sidur, I started to think of each and every one of my family members who lived in Kielce and prayed in this same place and slowly slowly I started to feel their presence. And when Rabbi Schudrich invited me to the Tora, instead of saying the Brachot I suddenly started to sing them at exactly the same melody which I was singing when I was 13 years old and which I never repeated since then. I felt that I came to Kielce to celebrate my Bar Mitzva once again after 49 years, this time with my grandparents, great grandmother uncles, cousins and other family members that lived in Kielce and could not attend my first 13 years bar mitzvah. I hope that they have been proud of my singing as were my parents when I was 13 years old.

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