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Livestreaming Kabbalat Shabbat: A Poem

middle aged light skinned woman with black frame glasses sitting at desk in front of ipad smiling

This poem came to me while I was "attending" a livestreamed Kabbalat Shabbat service from Temple Emanu-El (Reform) in San Diego, CA—thinking about both the loneliness and the freedom of our current reality of virtual worship. Rabbi Devorah is Rabbi Devorah Marcus. 


Livestreaming Kabbalat Shabbat

“We see you,”
Rabbi Devorah says
she can’t really
this service is livestream not Zoom
 
But You, God,
You see all of us
isolated
lonely? yes
yet also free to davven
in our own ways
each of our homes
a canopy of Sabbath peace
 
You watch us 
gathering our kids
to light candles and
watch the service together
okay, trying to contain their shpilkes
their ants-in-the-pants Friday night energy
Are the Sabbath angels playing with them?
loving their laughter?
 
You hear us
belting out songs
off-key but who cares?
In Your ears
our dissonance becomes 
a chorus of angels
 
You see us
ducking into
the kitchen to stir a pot
preparing a meal of perfect (or imperfect) faith
you see us get started on a glass of wine
borei p’ri hagafen
You breathe the cooking aromas
the wine’s bouquet
do you let out a sacred Ah?
 
Yes, sometimes
we’re not fully present
we’re checking email
texting a friend
refereeing a sibling dispute
still we are braided together
like a golden challah
by words of prayer
 
You see us
in our living rooms
kitchens
bedrooms
patios
everyplace we have made
mishkan, a dwelling-place
for the Sabbath queen
 
You see me, God,
jamming with the music
improvising harmonies
whaling on my drum
dancing like Miriam leading the women
across the sea
 
And we do
we cross the sea
separate yet united
by Your limitless gaze
we cross together
a holy community
singing redemption’s song

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