I love Yerushalayim! I love the buildings. I love the light rail. I love the stores. I love the people. I love the learning. And I love the Shuls. Wherever you turn you can catch a serious Shacharis, Mincha or Maariv.
Of all the places in Yerushalayim, I love the Old City best. The Kotel and the surrounding concentration of Jews, Torah and Shuls brings out the spiritual best in me. And my favorite Shul in Yerushalayim is the Hurva.
The Hurva is a beautiful Shul which runs like clockwork according to the Minhagim of the Gra. Nobody says “Baruch Hu U’Varech Shemo”. On Rosh Chodesh, only the Baal Tefillah says Brochos before and after Hallel and there is no skipping back after the first aliyah of leining. However, one of the most striking things (which I don’t think is a Minhag HaGra), is that the entire Tzibbur sings a 15 minute Hallel together. On the first day of Rosh Chodesh we davened at the Neitz minyan, but on the second day we davened at the 7:45 minyan, where a class of grade school boys added an extra melodic dimension to the Hallel.
Additional fine features of the Hurva is the gathering around for coffee after davening, a super friendly Rav who extends and embraces visitors despite a potential language gap, and a comfortable but cozy women’s section high above the main shul.
I love the Hurva and it’s my favorite place to daven in Yerushalayim, but my most favorite Shul in the world is located at 73rd Avenue and 147st in Kew Gardens Hills. It doesn’t have the inherent holiness of the Old City, nor is the davening as focused as the Hurva, but it does have one thing over all the other Shuls in the World – it is filled with people I love. People with whom I’ve shared the majority of my life through joy, through sorrow, through learning, through tefillah, through chesed, through building, through fund raising and through lasting friendships.
When it comes to Shuls, there’s truly no place like home.