So here I was with my children, trying to explain this to them as we gazed at a building in transition, how it wasn't really a "sad" thing that a cross now adorned the exterior brick of the sanctuary, even before they had had a chance to remove the shofar and Torah depicted on the adjoining wall. I explained that Christianity is a valuable religion espousing many good values that we Jews ought to appreciate, and how nice it is that the new occupants of the building will still be worshiping God there.
And yet, even as I said this, there was a part of me that grieved deeply for the loss of this once Jewish space. I wept internally for the sound of Jewish schoolchildren's footsteps that would no longer reverberate against the cinder block walls in the hallways. I wondered what would happen to the ner tamid which used to cast its eternal light upon the Torah scrolls below -- scrolls that have since found a home in other congregations. I put on a good face for my children, but the child who had once occupied my own skin had something else to say entirely.
|Northwest Suburban Jewish Congregation: a Building in Transformation|
Perhaps this is what makes my job so inspiring. The muted tap tap of little feet on the carpet, the soaring ark and eternal flame, the wooden pews with tarnished name plates from yesteryear merge into the visceral and temporal richness of Jewish experience here. Indeed the intersection of Baltimore's Jewish past and present seems to saturate the very walls of the historic building in which I sit as I type these words.
My heart grieves a little for the synagogues that are no more, but it celebrates this shul that was... and is.