Saturday, October 2, 2010
The Dome of The Rock and My Talit
At Friday night Shabbat services as I sat down to listen to the Rabbi's sermon, my eyes wandered. He spoke about his hopes for progress towards peace in Israel/Palestine. My eyes settled on the corner of my tallit prayer shawl (see image below). I noticed for the first time the subtle silver-on-white decoration of each of the four panels at the corners of the shawl. My mind was thinking about the so-called "peace talks" when the image suddenly leaped to the forefront of my consciousness. Could this Arabic structure festooned with Hebrew banners and crowned with a Jewish star be....the Haram el-Sharif mosque?
The two banners read "tiferet" and "zion". The Tiferet Zion synagogue in Jerusalem is in the Mahane Yehuda market. It is a landmark building because of its distinctive sundial on the side of the building. That synagogue looks nothing like this image. Another option is the famous, domed Hurva synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. But the details beneath the dome are quite different in the Hurva synagogue. The Biblical verse that adorns the image is the traditional Jewish oath to Jerusalem: "I will lose my right hand before I forget thee O Jerusalem"
Was the similarity to the Dome of the Rock intentional, or was it an innocent mistake?
Regardless, in the context of that sermon and this week's events (see the previous post), I just removed my talit and concluded the service sans prayer shawl. For services today I used a different talit.
I've had this talit for seven years, wearing it on a weekly basis. I didn't notice this detail until last night.
A congregant who is an artist and peace activist once made some windsocks that had the Israeli flag on one side and the Palestinian flag on the other. He gave one to me. This was long before the days when the Palestinian flag became the conventional symbol that it is today (even Israeli leader, Netanyahu has one in his office). I had to take it down: the windsock moved too much under the pressure of the forced air, and was triggering the alarm's motion sensors.
So, perhaps I'll put an Israeli flag on the right front corner of the tallit, a Palestinian flag on the left front corner and leave the back ones as they are. Should make for a good show-and-tell lesson.
P.S. I checked out the Zion Tallis website and the corners of this style Talit are now decorated with different image. Perhaps they figured that this image might be read as offensive.