Searching Out a Place

Many contemporary women and men are searching for “a place,” in the Jewish world. We frequently bemoan the lack of singing, fellowship, learning or youth programs at our various synagogues. We struggle with issues from the pettiest to the most fundamental in our worship communities. We all know of clergy and other Jewish professionals who were treated badly by their congregations or vice versa.

Without diminishing our present struggles, it is interesting to note the following — from Inquisition records of 1590, a Crypto-Jewish woman’s prayer for “place.”

God–fill my mouth with laughter and my mouth with song
Fulfill my wishes, bless me from Zion
Hear, Lord, the prayer of Your servant
Let my heart not be proud, nor my eyes be arrogant
Grant me, my God, that I should understand [simple things]
Until I find a place for God; dwelling places for the Might One of Jacob
ad amtza makom l-” mishkanot la-abir ya-akov
For there God commanded the blessing–life unto eternity,
ki sham tzivah ” et ha-bracha chayyim ad ha-olam
There I shall spread my hands to [these]
I shall bless You, Lord, for You judge Your nation
And Your servants accompany You
Hear my cry in Your sanctuary

–pages 24-27, A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book, edited by Aliza Lavie.

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