Shabbat by the Sea: Basking in Summer’s Light

By Ellen Ruth Topol

As a glorious orange sun began to set over Eastchester Bay, congregants, friends, family and fellow seekers gathered at the beautiful welcoming home of Ken Binder and Steve Roth. We came to celebrate the gifts of summer by celebrating Shabbat outdoors in a large roomy backyard, our eyes gazing on the spacious sky as night approached. This night we are soothed by the gentle movement of the water as we cast our eyes on the bay, while music provided by Our Band by the Sea helped us find our own inner rhythm. Casting off the week, we took our cue from G-d to celebrate Shabbat, a day of rest and celebration.

by-the-sea2159The band greeted us with music: as we entered this space with more awareness, it became our Temple by the Sea, a Holy Space to join in community and feel connection among ourselves and with G-d. Ken and Steve lit Shabbos candles as the sun went down and the moon, almost full, began to appear above us through the trees. Each of us rooted in our journey in celebrating Shabbat by the Sea, which some of us had anticipated all year, together we joined in prayer, song and inner reflection. We truly were situated between day and night as sun set before us and the brilliant bright moon rose behind us. G-d’s gift of Earth, Air, Water and Fire cradled and comforted us as the expansive space above and around us mirrored our own inner expansion and connection.

As we got up to dance with one another hands joined person to person, we circled the space and expressed exuberance and joyousness. There was laughter, camaraderie, the emerging of new friendships and greetings among old friends. As we circled the backyard and then formed a connected circle among the dancers, we experienced unity among our individual selves, each merging into this circle, visually hand-to-hand, joined heart-to-heart.

The band played on, prayers spoken aloud and internally sparkled like the magnificent fireworks we had seen over this same bay on July 4th.

Rabbi Shohama led us in a prayer that asked us to stand and join hands with one another as we moved in a pattern that helped us to further connect with the spirit of Shabbat.

At the end of the service, we, more than sixty strong, joined hands and acknowledged one another and the spiritual journey we had just taken. There were smiling faces and sparkling eyes and deepening connections among old friends and new acquaintances.

We made blessings over wine and challah, and our special twins, Max and Rose Cutler (now studying for their bnai mitzvah), demonstrated their learning by leading blessings with Reb David.

Afterwards there was a delicious abundant Oneg provided by Ken and Steve, and some of us stayed until midnight so filled with the spirit of the evening and not wanting this precious night to end. We as a community and I, personally, so appreciate the generosity of Ken and Steve to share their home with us so that many hearts can be soothed by the sea, the sky, the prayers, the music, the gathering of community and we can in spiritual connection raise our voices in joy and thanksgiving to celebrate a glorious summer Shabbat by the Sea. Thanks to Rabbi Shohama, Reb David, the band, and all who attended to make this such a glorious special event.

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