I lit the Shabbat candles with my precious children around me, bringing their light into our souls. As a family we left home to daven at a new minyan, eagerly anticipating the start of the service. Five weeks ago this weekly Friday night service started, billed as a Carlebachian minyan. This week was our first time attending.
The shul was filled to capacity when Kaballat Shabbat services started. There were only a few women there, but I was very proud to be one of them. The men’s section was packed. When the chazzan starting singing Lechu Nerananah it seemed as if Reb Shlomo was singing it himself, was there with us in that room. His beautiful melodies were channeled through the chazzan, and I felt my spirit lifting. By the time the second paragraph was started, everyone was singing along, feet were tapping, we were clapping, Puffin was boogying along next to me.
We segued into Lecha Dodi, the tunes so spiritually uplifting, such a balm for my soul. I felt myself carried up to a different plane. My eyes closed as I swayed to the music, my voice joined in with the others’ in song and devotion to G-d. There were tears of joy gathered in my eyes, and my heart knew a fullness it hadn’t felt in a long time. I have never been so moved by prayer as I was this night. I have never felt so free in my devotion to G-d. The tunes and melodies just kept coming – never has prayer felt so sweet.
When this beautiful rendition of Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv was over, there was dancing in the shul – pure joy at being Jewish, pure simcha to celebrate Shabbat together with our fellow Jews.
It has been about 15 years since I previously attended Friday night services. It isn’t done much where I live. Traditionally the women stay home, and the men go to shul. When I was personally invited to this minyan, I just had to try it out. I am so thrilled that we went. My boys even felt the specialness of the tefillah, and have told me that this minyan is where they will be davening every Friday night from now on. They are too young to truly understand how amazing Reb Shlomo was, but what they experienced Friday night gives them a solid foundation and understanding about how deeply spiritual prayer can be.
Even now, over 24 hours later, I am still moved, I can still hear the niggunim in my head. I will sign off now, wishing you a Shavuah Tov, a good week, and leave you with some clips of Reb Shlomo, may he rest in Peace. Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six , Part seven a , Part seven b, Part eight, Part nine a, Part nine b