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August 30, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 30, 2013 PAGE 11A At Yom Kippur, a he acs-up on chest thumping Edmon J. Rodman On Yore Kippur, tapping on your chest, the door of your heart flies open. By Edmon J. Rodman " LOS ANGELES (JTA)--On Yom Kippur, when we beat our chests during the confession, maybe we should be knocking instead on our heads. After all, isn't that where all the trouble starts? On this most physically demanding of Jewish days, Jewish tradition has us beat the heart side of our chests, as if to say this is the source of our falling short. During the Viddui--the con- fessional portion of the service composed of the Ashamnu and AI Chait--some of us tap, some of us rap, some of us pound really hard. Many do nothing, perhaps wondering if this is some kind of Jewish self-flagellation. Those who tap are reminded, without leaving marks, of the connection between spiritual- ity and physicality. But are we choosing the right body part to make our confession meaningful? In the Bible, it is widely accepted that the heart--in Hebrew, lev--is the seat of emo- tion. Maimonides even linked the heart with the intellect. However, in the brave new science guy world in which we live today, while we're standing in shul tapping our hearts, our focus could easily turn from confession to hypertension. So what about lightly tap- ping the side of our heads in- stead with a why-did-I-do-that kind of knock? Isn't the head the place where, working in discord, our mouths and minds "create the tsouris we confess? Beginning with Rosh Ha- shanah---literally head of the year--our heads are in our rituals. We put tefillin on our bicep, next to the heart--unless you're left-handed, like me--but we alsowear tefillin on our head, before our eyes. On Friday nights when parents bless their kids, their hands are placed on the heads of their children. Confusing head and heart even more, in Psalm 90, an ideal is held up of obtaining a"heart of wisdom." So which to tap, heart or head? Bennett unveils new platforrr, for egalitarian prayer By Ben Sales a provocation and an infringe- activities did not contravene a TEL AVIV (JTA)=-Israel's religious services minister, Naftali Bennett, has unveiled a temporary platform for non- Orthodox prayer at Robinson's Arch, the archaeological site ad- jacent to the WesternWall plaza used by egalitarian groups. The platform, which will- include Torah scrolls, prayer books and prayer shawls and be open alt all hours, does not reach the Western Wall itself. A ramp leads from the 4,800-square- foot platform to a smaller area adjacent to the wall. Bennett's office described the new platform "as an interim but primary place of worship for Jewish egalitarian and pluralis- tic prayer services." 'The Kotel belongs to all Jews no matter who they are and what stream of Judaism they come from," Bennett said. "This new platform, builtahead of Rosh Hashanah, will help unify the Jewish people and enable all Jews to pray freely at the Kotel:' The new platform was un- veiled as face-offs continued at Judaism's holiest site between haredi protesters and the feminist group Women of the Wall,whichconductsamonthly service at the women's section of the Western Wall Plaza. The women's group has fought for the right to wear prayer shawls and read from the Torah at the wail, which the haredi Orthodox consider menton their religious rights. Egalitarian prayer, in which men and women participate equally, is permitted only at Robinson's Arch. Following several arrests of Women of the Wall members, a compromise solution devel- oped by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky was promised by the govern- ment last December. Adetailed version of the plan is due out this week. In the meantime, the fight has been a distraction for the government, sparkingaconflict between Bennett, who favors reserving the main Western Wall Plaza for Orthodox prayer, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who supports Women of the Wall. Bennett hopes to institute a legal statute restricting the plaza to Orthodox prayer, but such a statute would require Livni's approval. Under the terms of Sharan- sky's plan, first reported in April, the Robinson's Arch area would be expanded and a unified entrance built offering access to both traditional and egalitarian places for worship. Sharansky welcomed the temporary platform as "a ges- ture of goodwill." The months since the plan's broad outline was revealed have seen increased haredi Ortho- dox protests at Women of the Wall's monthly gatherings. In addition, a judge determined in April that the women's group's law prohibiting deviation from the wall's "local custom:' Since the ruling, no women have been arrested and the group has prayed with police protection in the Western Wall. Plaza. Given its legalvictory, Wom- en of the Wall considers the platform a step backward. The group released a statement Sunday calling it "the very definition of separate; and not nearly close to equal" "The plan'will effectively exile women and all Jews who pray in a way that is not ultra- Orthodox traditionto Robin- son's Arch and away from the area of the Western Wall where Jews have prayed for genera- tions:' the statement read. American liberal Jewish groups were more reserved in their judgments. The Union for Reform Judaism called the plat- form."at best, a very small step forward in the implementation of the full plan for full Jewish equality at the Kotel." Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, ex- ecutive vice president of the Conservative Rabbinical As- sembly, told JTA that the plan leaves several key questions unanswered. "A temporary platform does not in any way sway us from our struggle for full religious equal- ity,' Schonfeld told JTA. "If the temporary platform makes prayer easier and better for more worshipers at Robinson's Arch, that is positive.': To Rabbi Goldie Milgram-- the founder of Reclaiming Judaism, an organization seeking Jewish innovation and "maximal involvement," and author and publisher of a number of books on creating a meaningful Jewish life--strik- ing one's chest on Yom Kippur is an acknowledgment that "I am out of alignment." Tapping on the chest is away to realign, Milgram said from the Alliince for Jewish Renewal Aleph Kal- lah in New,Hampshire, where she was teaching. Milgram, who has master's degrees in social work and Hebrew letters, says that Juda- ism can be approached from the point of view of a gestalt psychologist. "People want to get things integrated into their bodies," she said. When I asked Milgram about my idea of tapping on one's head, shewonderedwhy Iwould want to do that. "What would you get from it?" asked Milgram, "Reb Gold- ie" to her students. "It would remind me of the source," I responded, seeing yet again that my ideas were getting me in trouble. "In Judaism, the heart is the seat," she reminded me. "Your awareness of 'ahavat Hashem' [love of God] starts in the heart," the rabbi added, explain- ing that seeing the head as the center is a Western tradition. Milgram also interprets tap- ping on the heart as a kind of drumming. "The body is the instrument," she said, making a connection between drumbeat and heartbeat, and suggesting that while we are tapping to "listen to both your head and your heart." Striking the chest is "a form of dancing one's prayer," Milgram said. Offering perhaps a new dance step, she suggested I try moving my finger in a circular motion slowlyover my heart. I tried, itwas definitely soothing, and I could see how the con- tinuity of motion might help me through the more peson- ally applicable "we have sinned against you's--butwondered if it would look weird. "People are doing it," she Of- fered, pointing out that in her work, she has encountered a diversity of customs. "What should I think about while I'm doing it?" I asked, recalling that while reading the lines of Ashamnu, instead of focusing on the individual lines, I would sometimes get caught up in the acrostic of shortcomings, wondering what the machzor would use for "X." Ask "What is my resistance to aligning with the mitzvah of caring for myself?." Milgrarn said, also suggesting that I make a list, noting aspects of body, family and Judaismwhere Iwould like to be more in align- ment with the mitzvot. She also advised "to forgive myself," pointing out that just striking my chest was not enough, "one has to engage afterwards." "Tapping on your chest, the door of your heart flies open," she observed. "That's the beginning of teshuvah," she said, mentioning the Jewish concept of returning, or asking forgiveness, that beats through the Yom Kippur liturgy. The Viddui, she said, is written in the" 'we.' We take responsibility." For that I would need both heart and head. Edmon J. Rodman is a ffA columnistwhowritesonJewish life from Los Angeles. Contact him at Altamonte Family Practice Andrew E. Krupitsky, D.O. Lindsey R. Wolf, P.A.-C Lin Folgate, P.A.-C Tanya Bengali, A .R.N.P.- C "Quality Through Excellence" New Patients Welcome Adult Medicine Geriatrics Pediatrics GynecOlogy X-Rays Immigration Physicals Lab Office Surgery (407) 332-6366 249 Maitland Ave., Ste. 1000 Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 Fax: 407-830-4300 i L'SHANA TOVA FROM THE ALL NEW TIFFANY'S ON THE PARK 505 N. PARK AVE. 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