Thursday, May 26, 2011

sixty-third visit: May 27th 2011 Orthodox Judaism

7:00pm friday
Bnai Emunoh Congregation
4315 Murray Ave,
Pittsburgh PA 15217
squirrel hill

I had been emailing Rabbi Weiss, who welcomed me and suggested that I take photos just before the service... technically before sundown, before the Sabbath is ushered in... while photography is permitted. At 6:50 pm, I am standing at the temple's locked front door. I am wondering if I misunderstood the service time. I am joined by a couple arriving on foot: a blind man (Richard) and a partially-sighted woman. (I am so upset at myself for forgetting her name.) They mention they are wondering the same. They also mention they walk to this temple to worship at least three times a week. I figure they would not mistake the time. Sure enough, no worries. Rabbi Weiss opens the temple, waves us in. Encourages me to photograph.

I enter the sanctuary and realize that though I was not mistaken with the time, the only true mistake so far lies in my faith in the online directory that listed Bnai Emunoh as Reform. Plexiglass installed between seating, dividing the room into two sections lengthwise, prompts me to ask my female companion: Orthodox? Yes. Up goes my headscarf. Slightly embarrassed. But I love traveling prepared, the handy aspect of my dress.

There are about six men present. A Minyan (see last post, 7th paragraph) is not met. My companion whispers that she has never experienced this situation.
Rabbi Weiss approaches me to explain that there are out-of-state weddings and other events keeping attendance low. Because there are less than ten men present, a different, abbreviated version of the service is performed, and accordingly, prayers are read individually to one's self, beginning on page 50. A small section of chanting and song. The 44 minutes pass like a single breath.

Rabbi Weiss kindly offers to sit a minute to answer questions. We talk about the overlap in scripture between Christianity and Judaism. I talk to him (slightly hesitantly) about the recorded Kaddish I will play in Germany next week (see last post, 3rd pgh). I'm not able to read his reaction to this; he is quite reserved.
He offers bulletins from Passover and upcoming Shavuos, June 7-9. I regret that will not be in town to observe this upcoming holiday.

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