Monday, August 18, 2008

Kabbalat Shabbat in Karlin – Stolin


Most Yeshivot are closed due to the summer vacation and only start opening up again in the month of Elul. This is the annual routine; closing from Tisha Be' Av before the High Holidays. But still a few Yeshivot keep on going and among them is the women's seminary "Neve Yerushalaim" in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Har Nof. This year, the Neve girls won't have off.

Many chassidic Rebbes already left the country in July. Many of them went on their summer vacation to fancy places in Austria or Switzerland. Later they go on their regular donation (Schnorrer) trip. Small chassidic groups depends on donations. For instance, the Toldot Aharon depend on Satmar (with Rebbe Aharon Teitelbaum).

Everybody seems to be gone and many places are closed or seem to be abandoned. There is not too much going on at the moment and my reports have been much less lately. Nevertheless, I still sometimes go for Kabbalat Shabbat to the Karlin – Stolin Synagogue in Yoel Street in Mea Shearim (right across the Satmarer Beit Midrash).
The Karliner Synagogue is not an impressive but rather a large simple concrete building. As usual, the men's entrance is easy to find but the Ezrat Nashim (women's entrance) can hardly be found without a guide. Once you know it, it is easy but first you have to get there. If you do, be prepared climbing up endless stairs.

The interior decoration is mostly light – coloured wood and so is the Aron HaKodesh (Torah shrine). A Chassid from a different chassidic group once asked me if I do take any earplugs to Karlin. The Karliner Chassidim are very famous for their extremely loud enthusiastic prayers. They actually shout out their prayers and thus reach a higher Devekut (closeness to G – d). The Karliner prayer is very unique and energetic. First, I faced some difficulties following the Friday night service. Due to all the screams, you can hardly hear any words and then you never know where we are in the prayer. Nevertheless, after a while you get just used to it and even feel like screaming as well.

The Karlin – Stolin women usually don't join the Kabbalat Shabbat service. There might be two or three other women when I arrive. Mostly a young New York born young Karlin woman or an elderly Israeli one. The elderly women is really into the prayers and sometimes wildly waving her arms. And it was her who I met last Friday night.

After the Kabbalat Shabbat service, all the little boys line up in front of the Aron and anxiously await their Shabbat presents. I love to watch them grabbing for those little plastic toys. The elderly woman came over to me and said that the presents are always toys. I was a little surprised because sometimes it looked like they were getting candies.
"No, only toys, the Karliner woman said, because we haven't made Kiddush yet".

By the way, the girls receive their presents on the next day at Shacharit.

This particular elderly lady loves to explain everything and whenever you ask her or don't ask her, she will tell you something. Before we left she said that there are donors giving money for those toys.

"Was this meant to be a statement or a hint ?"

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