© 2017 by Anna Benjamin / created with Wix.com

Boi v'Shalom - Come in Peace

 

Growing up in New York City, I attended Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, where I studied weekly, became Bat Mitzvah and attended services with my family. This beautiful building that housed our congregation had two large and welcoming doorways. When open, the doors would lead to the sanctuary: a place of community, filled with light, color, and song. After 9/11, I rarely saw these inviting doors open. Instead, community members would enter through a small side door and through a metal detector.

 

A few years ago I visited the Neue Synagogue in Berlin with my grandmother. Though the synagogue was destroyed during World War II, the front entry and facade of the building have been reconstructed to their original grandeur. The sanctuary has been left as a void, a reminder of what had been. I can imagine that the space, which was ornately decorated, felt much like the one I grew up in: brimming with the life and energy of a confident and growing community.

 

The week after the attacks on the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh in October of 2018, I attended Shabbat services with my family at Stephen Wise. The sanctuary within was filled with community, joining together in words, song and action. At one point in the service, the entire congregation stood and turned towards the doors to the sanctuary in an act of welcoming: Boi v’Shalom, Come in Peace. Though the doors may not always appear open, our voices and actions remain a force of welcoming, inviting any and all to join together in community.
 

18% of profits from these works will be donated to HIAS.