On Sunday, Easter, April 24, 2011, members of the kehillot from aroung the country gathered in the Convent of Notre Dame in Kiryat Yearim for a day of prayer and unity, to rejoice together at the resurrection of the Lord.

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This year, on the traditional day of the gathering of the kehillot, about 230 members, representing all the kehillot: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Beer Sheba, Tiberias, Nazareth and Latroun, and many other members from different places throughout the country, Hebrew speakers and Russian speakers but also speakers of a great variety of other languages. The joy of the feast reigned and the renewed meeting between friends strengthened the sense of joy. The church echoed over and over again with the exclamation of the feast: Christ has risen!

At 11.00 the mass was celebrated. Before the entry of the priests, the faithful watched a short picture presentation that memorialized three of our sisters who passed away since the last feast: Eda from Beer Sheba and Claire and Aliza from Jerusalem. In the procession of the priests from the different kehillot, there was also Father Gregor Pawlowski, wearing for the most time the honorary miter he had received from the late Archbishop of Lublin.

In his homily, Father David summed up the past four days, being the peak of the liturgical year, in four words: love, atonement, quiet and joy (his reflections can be read here). The songs during the mass, accompanied by members of the different communities, under the direction of Benny, added to the experience of joy. At the end of the mass, the priests distributed to each one a colored egg and a prayer card with the image of Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified next Sunday.

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The time of the meal is not only a time to nourish the body with the foods that have been brought, but also a time to circulate in order to greet old friends and make new ones. The children could renew relationships that had been established in the children’s summer camp, the youth could meet again and continue to get to know one another as they prepare for the meeting in Madrid, and the families could strengthen the conversation that had begun at the meeting of families in Tiberias… The variety of foods was incredible – Israeli, East European, Arabic, Indian, etc… Something tasty for every taste. At the end of the meal time, the members all gathered together to sing happy birthday to Father David and also to Laszlo and Michele-Edith and wish Father Roman well on the second anniversary of his priestly ordination.

At 14.30, everyone gathered again in the church, this time for a concert. Each kehilla presented songs from its repertoire. Four songs from Beer Sheba gave a magnificent expression to its diversity: songs in Hebrew, Spanish, English (with the splendid voice of Martin singing a Beatles song) and Arabic (Marianna singing the beautiful Byzantine hymn “The Mesiah has been raised”. The Haifa kehilla also excelled under the supervision and through the inspiration of Myriam. The hit was the song she had written in honor of Father Roman’s priestly ordination (the song can be heard here). All the kehillot sang, however the most moving was the two songs in Hebrew sung by the youngest of the kehillot, that of Tiberias. The youth who are preparing to go to Spain also sang, thus making themselves known to the older generation.

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At the end of the concert, Father Roman, the priest of Haifa, presented a short presentation, developed by the Haifa community, on Pope John Paul II. The first part was a video documenting the Pope’s visit to Israel in 2000 (which can be seen here). The second part was a picture presentation about his life and work.

A little after 16.00, the faithful sang the “Our Father” in thanks to God for this wonderful day, a day that gives strength to go on as we return to the routine as witnesses to the joy of the resurrection.