Something I’m going to miss about my little Jerusalem hometown of Katamonim are the amazing Sephardi beitay knesset that pepper the streets:
Most of the residents in this neighborhood are some strain of Mizrachi, mainly Kurdish, Bucharian, Moroccan or Yemenite. The synagogues carpeted and fluorescently lit, reflect that.
I feel 100% comfortable attending services at Beit Aharon, one of the ‘shuls’ up the block. We go occasionally, and the usual suspects recognize my husband (after all, he kind of stands out) and no one asks me any questions, even if I am usually the only woman upstairs. I also love knowing that when women do come, the priority is to be present and pray as opposed to look a certain way (namely, I can wear my loose pants!).
In addition, the service is just plain fun – but not in a ‘happy-clappy’ way which is more of a turn off to me than otherwise. The chazzan is always the same old man who actually sounds like he is conversing with God when he prays. The whole room is involved in one conversation, together. See the way the seats and tables are facing? This is a congregation. It’s also the way beitay knesset were historically arranged in the good ole days, before exile.
In Tsur Hadassah, I’m looking forward to my prayers being spoken from inside a small, rickety trailer, which is how I grew up praying. Back to basics. But the couple years I had the chance to pray in a place as grand as my Kurdish synagogue will always be appreciated.