The Tel Aviv Museum has hosted an installation of 200 empty seats at a Shabbat dinner table, part of a call by the families in Israel of those missing to bring home their kidnapped loved ones. To see more about this installation you can go to this JTA article. Our colleague Cantor Hillary Chorny from Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles has elaborated on this with an inspiring ritual around the empty Shabbat dinner table.
As part of our Conservative/Masorti #SolidarityShabbat, the Midway Jewish Center invites everyone to join together in lifting up this initiative and adding to it a similar sacred initiative in our synagogues, to keep alive the call to release the kidnapped in Israel, with an Empty Seat in our Sanctuary.
Let’s all designate a chair in our sanctuary, on the bimah if you have one, with a tallit draped over it, a siddur left sitting on it, the prayer for the missing sitting for anyone to recite, and the word “נעדרים” (missing) printed and posted on the chair. As Cantor Chorny expressed, “This ritual gives a visual to the pain of someone’s absence: We wish they could be here, eating with us, celebrating with us, reassuring us that they are ok.” We add to this, a reminder that until we can all come to synagogue together, to pray together, we are not ok.
Save a Seat for Omer Neutra, Rabbi Joel Levenson (Midway Jewish Center)