10/12/2006

New Shul, Old Shul


A new shul opened about a block away from my new home just about a month ago. They were expecting 40 people to show up the first Friday night, and about 120 did. It’s been growing ever since, as word spreads and neighborhood continues to be populated at a rapid pace. I’ve gotten involved somewhat; in addition to becoming a member and helping out when I can, I’ve taken on a few ‘functional’ roles – speaking, leading the davening, etc.
It’s very exciting to be part of something so new.

At the end of my street and through some thicket (there’s a longer path around as well), an ancient Jewish settlement – dating back to possibly the 2nd Century BCE, but at latest the 1st Century CE, including a shul and mikva’ot was discovered while preparing to pave a road in 2001. It is one of two sites that are considered likely locations of the ancient Hasmonean city of Modiin.
The shul has been fenced off by the Antiquities Authority, but the rest of it is open, and I’ve taken to exploring it with friends and family, and even by myself. I first went down the 2nd night of Rosh Hashana and davened Ma’ariv there in the solitude. It was pretty intense. Since, I’ve been back at least 3 times, and am planning on going again today. I went with the proprietor of the Dancing Camel microbrewery, who also organizes an occasional Carlebach minyan, to check it out as a potential venue. That’s be pretty intense, too.
I also went down with my 2 older kids, and occasional commenter ‘Tel Talpiot’ and his kids. We really got a chance to explore, going down the seven steps into the ancient mikvah’s basin, getting a great view of the shul from it’s northern end, finding some potsherds, and exploring the densely-packed town. Alas, we could not find the remains of any popcorn stand near the mikvah.

Ultimately, I’d love to see the site integrated into some type of Jewish cultural center, blending the ancient with the contemporary, where today’s Jews can find God and meaning just as those from millennia ago. I know there are others who share this dream, and I intend to seek them out and make it a reality (so that this doesn’t happen).
It’s very exciting to be part of something so ancient.
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