It was a moment of awe, a moment I will never forget. It was a moment about Israel, not about the political tumult that often divides Jews, but about love for a country – and community.
On Erev Rosh Roshanah, the associate rabbi at our temple gave a sermon about the need for us – no matter where we stand politically – to find a way to connect to Israel. Maybe, she suggested, we could connect to its food, its culture, music, or dance. As the sermon ended, the cantor walked to the bimah. The pianist began to play, and the cantor began singing “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold) by the late Israeli singer Naomi Shemer. The cantor, her voice clear, confident, yet also gentle, sang the first verse in Hebrew. Unprompted, the congregation joined her on the refrain. Perhaps 1,000 voices filled the sanctuary with song.