A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 284: Oy, the Sun!

April 8th · 1 Comment

img_7300Early this morning a congregation of about 150 Jews stood by the United Nations building and did something that seemed almost pagan: They blessed the rising sun.

I braved the chill and dark to join this event because it combined two rarities. Jews are everywhere in New York, but if one’s not Jewish it’s unusual to see them worship. And no one goes out of their way to celebrate Apollo in Manhattan. Dionysus maybe, but not Apollo.

The event, called a Birkat Hachamah, comes only once every 28 years, when the sun rises in the same position it did on the week the Earth began. That’s approximate, of course; to learn how the rabbis arrived at this date, read this informative New York Times story.

As the sun peeked out over the East River, a trio played music. The congregants sang along with “Dayenu,” a hymn of thanks that Jews will sing again tonight during Passover. Among the men in yarmulkes, a black man in long dreadlocks mouthed the words with tears streaming down his face. The rabbi Joshua Metzger spoke over the roar of construction trucks roaring across 1st Avenue.

The ancient tradition of Birkat Hachamah is more relevant than ever because, Metzger said, “These days, natural processes are seen to be as magnificent as the splitting of the Red Sea.”

I squinted at the sun rising up from Queens and said, Amen.

Tags: Encounters with Nature · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Tibbie // Apr 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    That’s 2 clever by half and 2×2 clever 4 me. Tnahsk!

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