I observed three LOVEly things while sitting in the sanctuary for Yom Kippur services today.
1. The gentleman who has been my second grade co-teacher in Religious School for twelve years was called up to the bima with his wife to do an aliyah (a blessing before a Torah reading). He is a member of our High Holidays choir and very outgoing and funny; she is quiet and not too many people at the temple know her well because she’s had major health problems for years. I have met her a few times and have spoken with her on the phone a few times too, when I’ve called him to plan our day. I was very touched when they were called up today. As they got up from their seats and walked up to the Torah, he kept his arm wrapped tenderly around her, and held onto her as they started to sing the blessing together. He, being outgoing and in the choir, was singing very loud compared to his quiet wife. After the first line of the blessing, I saw in his face that he realized his voice was overshadowing hers, and he took his volume down by about half, making sure to match her volume so they could both be heard. As they sang, he smiled a sweet smile in her direction. This display was so adorable, especially because most of my interactions with him involve him cutting up on a constant basis; it was lovely to see how gently and lovingly he treated his wife.
2. During part of the sermon, I noticed that a friend of mine, seated a couple of rows up and in the next section over, was stroking a girl’s back with her hand. I didn’t think anything about it because lots of moms do that during services. I looked at her again a minute later and noticed that the “girl” seemed sort of big, for a little girl. Then I realized it was a grown woman, and after a moment I recognized her. The pair of them have been close friends for years, and the woman was sobbing (quietly). My friend was silently and stealthily (sort of ) consoling her with just a simple hand stroke up and down her back, without taking her eyes off our rabbi and without doing anything to call attention to them. A few minutes later, the woman who was crying composed herself, gave her friend a sideways look with a little nod as if to say, “Thanks, I’m okay”, and they both resumed participation in the service. Their bond was clear and l felt lucky to observe it.
3. At the end of the service, the 17 year old took off his tallit (prayer shawl) and I watched him as he gently folded up the long piece of silk on the creased lines that were pressed into it by the manufacturer. He made sure to fold it exactly the right way, like a road map, smoothing down each fold as he went along, sliding his hand across it methodically. Some men wear the same tallit for years and years, and I found my mind wandering, wondering if he would use the same tallit (he got it when he became a Bar Mitzvah four years ago) when he is a grown man someday, a father, taking his own family to the temple. As he put the tallit into its storage bag, he slowly and carefully closed up the zipper, so as to not catch the silk of the tallit, and then sat for the last few minutes of the service with the bag on his lap and his hands folded on top of it.
Who says you can’t find love when you’re looking for it?