Here is today’s Good News Friday installment, a special Sukkot edition in honour of Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed.
The first item of good news for this week is that the workers at Dimona’s nuclear reactor will finally get their own shul (synagogue), or as Yisrael Hayom punnily calls it, “their own enrichment program“:
Israelis will celebrate the Simchat Torah holiday next week, but before this another large Torah-related celebration will take place in the most clandestine place in Israel — the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
A limited number of specially invited guests are slated to attend the special ceremony on Tuesday to inaugurate a new synagogue at the site, including a Torah scroll, the first ever at the nuclear reactor.
According to a source involved in the organization of the ceremony, until now there was no synagogue or Torah scroll at the site and prayers were held in various shelters.
The initiative began about a year ago, when Rabbi David Abuhatseira contacted American Jewish millionaire Ira Rennert with an urgent request to build a synagogue and bring a Torah scroll to the site.
“The rabbi claimed that having a synagogue at the reactor would reflect a combination of tremendous holiness and power, which is very important,” the source said. “The rabbi asked us to make the preparations as soon as possible and construction of the synagogue was completed only recently. The building, located inside the reactor, is brand new, very fancy, and contains some 300 places.”
The source added, “People work at the reactor 365 days a year, even during the holidays, and up until today there was no synagogue there, so it was very important to the rabbi. There are thousands of workers at the reactor, and we were surprised to learn that for the hundreds of religious employees among them, there was no place to pray.”
According to the source, there is a close connection between the timing of the inauguration of the Torah scroll and the public debate over the Iranian nuclear threat: “We have no doubt that by building a synagogue and bringing a Torah scroll to a special place like this, will we will be protected from above against all external threats, including from Iran.”
A big thank you goes to Rabbi Abuhatzeira for pushing the idea and to Mr. Rennert for bringing the idea to fruition. Certainly there is no time more appropriate to bring the protection of Hashem and the Torah to the reactor in Dimona.
My next item is not a news item at all, but simply our experience of Aliya le’Regel (pilgrimage) to Jerusalem last night. We (hubby and I) left our home later than we’d planned (now there’s a surprise. Not) but thought we’d at least avoid traffic jams. Wishful thinking and Jerusalem go together nicely, but not when we’re talking about traffic. However I chose to see the full half of the glass, and was happy to see so many people going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Sukkot holiday. The traffic jams continued and turned from motor into human traffic jams as we walked, pushed and elbowed our way through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to get to the Kotel. Here are a few pictures taken on my phone camera to show you how Jerusalem looked last night.
Here is the renovated Hurva shul, all lit up in honour of the Chag, with a Simchat Bet Hashoeva celebration taking place inside, broadcast on screens outside for the public to view. The thumping music of the simcha could be heard throughout the Old City and made me want to dance.
Here you can see the dancing being shown on CCTV screens outside the shul:
Once we managed to get through the Jewish Quarter, this wonderful sight of a packed plaza at the Kotel greeted us, even though it was already 10 p.m.
Here is what the Kotel itself looked like at that hour.
From the women’s side:
And the men’s side:
After we left the Kotel we made our way back to Jaffa Gate via the Arab Shuk, which was still crowded with Jewish visitors making their way to the Kotel, and even at Jaffa Gate the streets were teeming with Israelis and tourists entering the Old City, even though by this time it was after 11 p.m.
Seeing the crowds of locals and tourists all thronging through the streets of Jerusalem to go to Judaism’s holiest site (besides the Temple Mount) truly gave me a wonderful warm feeling, letting me imagine how Jerusalem will look once again when the Temple will be rebuilt speedily in our days, Amen.
And for my final item for today, again not quite in the news category, but definitely something to celebrate Sukkot by, a very funny quirky video made by 4 American-Israeli friends in Bet Shemesh. May I present “Shake your Lulav”!
Shabbat Shalom and Mo’adim LeSimcha!