Monday, January 23, 2012

Raise High the Roof Beam

On Friday, January 13th, I decided at the last minute to light the Sabbath candles for the first time in about a year.  I also bought a loaf of challah at the bakery, and this time I asked David to leave it unsliced.  “Last one,” he said as he slipped it into a plastic bag.  It was long after sunset by the time I got it home, along with the box of utility candles from the outlet store.  But I knew from experience that it would work, and it did.  The atmosphere in the room changed and I felt peace for a few minutes.  I have always been surprised at the power of this small ritual, and the immediate sense of Presence it always brings.

Then on Saturday morning I received a notice from Congregation Emanu El in my email and made another last-minute decision.  The construction of the new temple in Redlands is proceeding very rapidly, and on Sunday we were all invited to sign the massive ceiling beam destined to support the roof of the sanctuary and the social hall.  It reminded me of the construction of another Reform temple, where it really all began for me 50 years ago.  The confirmation class of 1961 was the last one to be confirmed in a rented hall.  After that the congregation moved into the new building in time for the High Holiday services and the beginning of religious school in September.

What does being Jewish mean to you personally?

Even if I can't answer the question verbally I can answer it graphically.  It suddenly became very important to place a design symbolic of my karma and my Jewish identity on that roof beam.  I wasn’t sure I could pull it off at the last minute because of the usual transportation problems, but on Saturday afternoon my son agreed to drive me there.  I made a point of wearing the filigree Star of David my sister sent me from Israel years ago.  It was important to get the design for my symbolic graffiti just right, so I worked it out on paper first on Saturday night and Sunday morning.  When we arrived at the construction site, I discovered there was plenty of room on the beam to write whatever I wanted, so I added a last-minute inscription:  To the Jewish community of San Bernardino & Redlands from Linda Siegel Sang—her own private gate. 


Raksha said...

A few words of explanation are in order here, and the comments section seems to be the only place I can put them at the present time. There are pictures that go with this post, but right now it seems I can post either text or pictures, but not both...and as long as the text isn't too long!

I am having technical issues with the Blogger draft window in Google Chrome. If a post gets beyond a certain length, I start getting random errors in the text: some paragraphs duplicating, others getting crunched together with large chunks of text missing, random changes in font size and color, etc.

Originally this post was added to the end of a much longer one, which I tried to post last night. I did have it up briefly, but I had to take it down after I discovered I couldn't correct the errors without introducing new ones. So I decided to post this part as a separate post, which it really is anyway. I'll post the longer one ASAP when the draft window issues are resolved.


Raksha said...

Update: I am still having problems with the Blogger draft window, or with the transition from draft to preview, but they aren't quite as bad now. I was able to add one picture to the top of the post on 1/23/2012.

Stacey Snacks said...


I enjoyed this post very much, it makes me want to buy a challah for Friday night and light Shabbat candles, which I have never done in my life except at my grandparent's home when I was a child.

and you are right, it is too bad that I live on the right coast instead of the left coast. We have no produce except for 3 months a year, and a miserable winter.....but at least I have NYC, my consolation. :)