WALL STREET SYNAGOGUE HOSTS "BLESSING OF THE SUN"
The Wall Street Synagogue, 47 Beekman St., New York City, is hosting a once-in-a-generation event---Blessing of the Sun---Birchas HaChama in Hebrew---on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, after sunrise at approximately 7:30 a.m.
It will be held on the 17th-story penthouse deck of an institutional structure adjacent to the synagogue. And it will be dedicated as a memorial to the tragically lost World Trade Center whose 110th-story observation deck was the site of the synagogue's last celebration in 1981.
The basic text of the blessing gives thanks to the Creator for calling the universe, its stars and planets into existence. It is open to the public at no charge as are all rituals of the day. The sun blessing will be followed by the Siyum service for the first-born and then by the public burning of "chametz"---remainders of leavened grain--symbolically destroyed to show their use is prohibited during Passover.
For information call (212) 227-7800 extension 17 and to leave a messsage (212) 227-7543.
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New York Jews Host Tour for Amish
NEW YORK AP (April 1) -- The city's ultra-Orthodox Jews took the Pennsylvania Amish on a walking tour of their world Tuesday, saying their communities are naturally drawn to each other with a commitment to simpler lifestyles.
At a workshop where a young man was touching up a Torah, a scroll of the holiest Jewish writings, Epstein told the group how a Jew in wartime Germany had rescued the sacred scroll by wrapping it around his midriff under his clothes as he fled to safety.
The Amish listened, commenting to one another in Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of the German of their ancestors.
When Epstein, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., had first greeted the Amish with the Yiddish "Zei gazunt!" ó "be healthy" ó they understood. After all, the expression is derived from the German word "sei gesund."
As the two groups walked side by side on Brooklyn streets, Crown Heights residents did double-takes; the Amish could be mistaken for Lubavitchers at a quick glance. But their hats are more square and their ruddy complexions from working outdoors contrast with the pale faces of the studious, urban Lubavitchers.
Hasidic children in Crown Heights begin their formal schooling at age 3, and by age 5 are studying many hours a day. At the headquarters on Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway each day, dozens of men gather to pore over religious books, with little boys dashing around as their fathers fervently debate fine points of the texts ó sometimes sounding more like spirited poker players than religious faithful.
John Lapp and his wife, Priscilla, brought their three children on the tour. John Lapp said the ties to the communities might be more surface than substance.
"In some things we are alike, like our clothing and our traditional beliefs," he said. Priscilla Lapp added, "And in some things we are not. The biggest thing is that Jesus is our savior."
The groups also toured a Jewish library and a "matzo factory," where round, unleavened bread was being made for the Passover holiday.
There, a cross-cultural misunderstanding caused one of the Jewish men to look at the Amish, and ask, repeatedly, "Are you from Uzbekistan?"
An Amish man, also confused, asked, "Afghanistan?"
Finally, as they were leaving, another Amish man announced to the matzo-makers: "We're from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!"
* * * * TIPS FOR A BETTER LIFE IN 2009 AND BEYOND