A Different Path to Shabbat

Shabbat is anywhere and everywhere.

Twice during the summer of 2012, Temple B’nai Torah of Wantagh celebrated Shabbat without the traditional four walls and stained glass, Rabbi Marci Bellows and song leader Emily Altman helped to bring in Shabbat at TOBAY (Town of Oyster Bay) Beach on Long Island. Sitting in a semi-circle with sand between our toes, congregants, friends, and family members celebrated Shabbat with songs, prayers, and meditation with the sun setting, a gull flying above, and the cool ocean breeze blowing – as all the while in the background, beachgoers were playing Frisbee, celebrating a birthday, catching some last-minute rays, and boogie-boarding on the surf. Some beachgoers even stopped to listen to our songs and perhaps add a prayer of their own. Suddenly the Mi Shebeirach and “Shalom Rav” took on a new meaning. We were as comfortable praying as other people were playing.

Rabbi Bellows told the story of a lady with two buckets, one with a hole and one without, and how both buckets played a vital role. Each day, the lady carried two buckets and fill them with water. By the time the lady reached her final destination, the bucket with the hole was empty, but the bucket with the water was full, to be used for drinking, etc. The bucket with the hole was upset; it served no purpose if the water was gone. When the bucket asked the lady for guidance, she told it to look down the next time the lady returned with the water – where the bucket saw a path of green grass and flowers it had watered along the way.

I can relate to that story. Every person plays a vital role in life – you just have to look at the path taken. Like Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof,” I learned that new traditions are made every day while old ones can continue. For those who could not attend the beach service there was a service at the temple.

I am not sure if I felt closer to God, but perhaps He heard me a little bit better without the walls.

Members of Temple B’nai Torah of Wantagh celebrate Shabbat on Long Island’s TOBAY Beach

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Howard Lev

About Howard Lev

Howard Lev is a long-standing member of Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh (Long Island), where he is the press representative and serves on the religious education and rituals committees. Married with two children, Howard is a theatre professional who has worked on a number of Broadway and off-Broadway shows including the national tour of The King & I. In addition to his contributions to URJ.org, Howard's writing has been published in Newsday. It is his unique perspective, as both an active congregant and a Reform Jew, that fuels his work, views, and commentaries.

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