by Arlyn Miller (Glencoe, IL)
In the sanctuary, the girl practices for her bat mitzvah.
Beside her, the Rabbi. In front of them, the open scroll.
Behind them, the open ark.
After reciting her Haftarah with a steady, studied pace, she begins
chanting the blessing. The mellow warmth of the Rabbi’s voice joins hers:
for holiness and rest, for honor and glory: we thank and bless you.
In the library, two 6th grade girls practice reciting the Kaddish prayer.
An 8th grade boy listens, tutoring them. They take turns repeating the lines,
punctuating them with an easy camaraderie. The prayer holds this, too.
In the courtyard, the snow is lit white against the dark night sky.
Yit-gadal v‘-yitka-dash sh’mei raba, b’al-ma di v’ra chi-ru-tei….
In the classroom, the Cantor is teaching trope to the students.
In unison their voices overflow into the hallway, where two 4th grade boys
and their teen helper sit cross legged on the floor practicing
the Shehecheyanu: Blessed are You, Adoni, our God,
Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, sustaining us,
and enabling us to reach this season.
Arlyn Miller is spending a year chronicling the life of her synagogue (Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL) as its Writer in Residence. “Wednesday Night Prayers” appears in slightly revised form in the March 2011 KOL. A poet, essayist and journalist, Arlyn also teaches creative writing in schools and in the community through Poetic License, Inc. You can find out more about her work at: www.poeticlicenseinc.net.