י״ז בשבט ה׳תשע״ז (February 13, 2017) Super Bowl Hashkama Minyan

The difficult part about watching the Super Bowl in Israel is that it’s played at 1:30 in the morning here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop my annual tradition of watching the Big Game. Around 15 of us, including one madrich (counselor), woke up very early the morning of Monday, February 6. With our energy drinks in one hand, and chips and salsa in the other, we began watching, settling in for what would be four long, but exciting hours that could’ve been spent in our beds sleeping, but which we decided were better spent watching one of the pinnacles of professional American sports. We struggled to stay awake at times, but the good company, the big stage of the game, the exciting play, and the caffeine helped keep us up.

The end of the game was very exciting, but we had a problem. It was closing in on 6 a.m., and we knew that none of us would be able to fall asleep for 50 minutes and then wake up again for breakfast and tefilah. So we made a spur-of-the-moment decision: We’d make a hashkama minyan, a prayer service that begins soon before the sunrise. We had to go slowly so that we could daven the Amidah after the sun had risen.

The ten of us put on our tallitot and tefillin and began the service. When we started Shacharit, the sky was still pretty dark and the air very chilly. But as we got nearer to the Amidah, we stopped shivering ad the sky gave off an amazing purplish glow. As we recited the Amidah, the air continued to warm, and the light got brighter. Now the hills of Jerusalem were visible, cloaked in a silent fog. As we continued saying the prayer, the fog disappeared, leaving the holiest city in the Holy Land silent after a long night.

We realized this one awesome moment would eventually become one in a series of moments that we would take home with us. This one moment was the beginning of all of us fully realizing that Jerusalem is our home, and that many similar, beautiful moments are still yet to come.

Elior Waskow
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