On Saturday, May 5, at 9:30am, Congregation Beth Israel will celebrate Shabbat with a unique service in which each of the poems of the traditional liturgy is paired with a poem by Sufi mystic poet Rumi.
“For many of us today,” says Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, “the poetry of our Hebrew liturgy may be inaccessible or obscure. The poetry of Rumi, especially in Coleman Barks’ beautiful translations, is wildly popular in America today. This is a chance to see our prayers in a new light, through the lenses of Rumi poems which speak to the same themes as our classical prayers.”
The service will run from 9:30-11am, as usual; at 11am the community will enjoy a kiddush (the blessing of wine/juice and bread, and a bit of snacking and conversation time) followed by text study.
“This week,” Rabbi Barenblat says, “we’ll probably spend our text study time discussing the service we will have just experienced. People may want to talk about the Rumi poems, or about the poetry of the Hebrew liturgy, or both.”
For this Rumi Shabbat service, the community will pray using a booklet of prayers collected by Rabbi Barenblat, inspired by her colleague Rabbi Ed Stafman of Bozeman, Montana, a fellow musmach (ordinand) of ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. “Rabbi Ed led a Rumi morning service this winter at Ohalah, the annual conference of Jewish Renewal clergy,” explains Rabbi Barenblat. “As soon as I experienced that, I knew I wanted to bring it home to CBI.”
Congregation Beth Israel, Northern Berkshire county’s only synagogue, was founded in 1893 and today is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. 53 Lois Street, North Adams 01247.