Shabbat in Jerusalem is always my favorite day of any time in Israel. Whatever else is going on in your life, or in the national life of Israel, is set aside for 25 or so beautiful, quiet, joyous hours.
Without the noise of cars and buses and trucks, with a graceful, peaceful, walking pace to life the Sabbath breathes its restoring energy into you, creating something the doesn't really exist anywhere else in the world every single week. And in the month of June, when the morning air in Yerushalayim really is as Naomi Shemer wrote the avir harim tzalul kayayin, "the mountain air crisp as wine" while the rest of the day is warm but breezy and tremendously pleasant, the experience of living a Shabbat as God and human beings intend is sweet and lovely and perfect.
This morning we walked across western Jerusalem to three synagogues for our "shul-hopping tour" of very different, thoroughly unique and quite fine Shabbat experiences. The first stop was the Aleppo synagogue, called "Adis", a small, beautiful synagogue in the Nachla'aot section of Jerusalem that preserves the customs, melodies, and traditions of the Aleppo, Syria community that moved to Israel in the early 1900's. The Aleppo Jewish community that mostly managed to avoid the worst of attempted persecution throughout its long history and came to Israel intact, along with a magnificent carved wood wall that covers the side of the Temple that faces towards the Kotel, the Western Wall. Actually, I also heard a different story from my friend Rabbi David Wilfond, who says that he hears a story that they fantastically carved wall actually was commissioned after they came to Nachla'ot from a Damascus woodcarving artist, which would have been a kind of sacrifice for the Aleppo Jews, who don't think so highly of Jews from Damascus... sound familiar?