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God is With Us

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“The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord on the fringe at each corner. You have the fringe so that, when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them.”

–Numbers 15:37-39a

Last Wednesday evening, our Confirmation class went to Temple Beth El, one of the Jewish Synagogues in Madison. The woman who shared with our group about Temple practices and the Jewish faith was a fabulous teacher. One of the things that stood out to me was her sharing about some of the ways Jewish people remind themselves that God is with them in the everyday rhythms of life.

The traditional Jewish head covering, called a Yarmulke, is a reminder that we are lower than God and that God is above us. The Yarmulke is also a symbol of God’s hand touching our head.

The prayer shawl, called a Tallis, is a reminder that God is with us. The prayer shawl covers the shoulders to represent God’s arms covering us. Jewish prayer shawls have knots and fringes on all four corners, with a single strand of blue weaved through the shawl. There are 613 knots and fringes to represent the 613 Jewish commandments or laws that help one live as a good person and the blue strand is a reminder of these duties and obligations.

Our teacher at the synagogue told us that the most important Jewish holiday is the Sabbath, which happens every week. The Sabbath is also called Shabbat, and lasts from sunset Friday night until Saturday night. Sabbath is the reminder that God rested from creating the universe on the seventh day of that first week, so the Jewish faith calls for rest from work on the Sabbath.

Our visit to the Synagogue was a wonderful experience of being reminded that our Christian roots come from Judaism and that there are many ways to be reminded of God’s presence with us. May we find ways to remind ourselves that God is with us in the midst of each day and in all things.