An International World Wide Wrap

The popular FJMC initiative brings together congregations in New England and Colombia.

by Donald Grenadir, MD

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In January 2006, the brotherhood of Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, decided to broaden the
scope of its participation in the World Wide Wrap. With the support of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, it was decided to partner this program with Conservative/Masorti congregations in four cities: Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Prague, Czech Republic, and Stockholm, Sweden.

At the time, Claudio Jodorkovsky was the rabbi of the congregation in Bogota. Over the years he has maintained this link to the brotherhood of Congregation Mishkan Tefila, and has continued to strengthen the connection in substantive ways despite leaving Bogota for Medellin and then Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

In 2010, the Congregation Mishkan Tefila brotherhood realized that it could add excitement, inspiration and layers of meaning to its World Wide Wrap program by physically and metaphysically joining its congregation to the congregation of Rabino Jodorkovsky via a Skype-enabled internet connection. The result was extraordinary. The electronic presence of brethren from across the sea seemed to enhance davening both visually and acoustically, and stimulate awe inspiring insights.

The Skype monitor screens in both synagogues were turned on before the event even began. People entering the synagogues immediately perceived a spatial and temporal sense of closeness. Later the audio component was turned on so that they could exchange boker tov, good morning, greetings. It remained on so that everyone could share in each other’s anticipation of the events ahead. Then they synchronized the davening for the Shacharit service. Although the sound remained off during most of the service, it was turned back on with full force as they prayed in unison with one voice during the Sh’ma, Ashrei, Aleinu, and Adon Olam. At the conclusion of the service, no one escaped the realization that prayers had just been expressed by Jewish people wrapped in tefillin, on two continents of the world, across the wide girth of the planet. Furthermore, during this 24-hour period (which was chosen by the FJMC in order to teach about, and celebrate, the mitzvah of tefillin) there would be other Jews wrapped in tefillin, praying in the same way, along other degrees of longitude.They recognized that at every moment in time there is likely to be a Jew wrapped in tefillin, praying somewhere in the world.

Then, as Skype continued to connect them, the members of Rabino Jodorkovsky’s congregation and the brotherhood of Congregation Mishkan Tefila gathered to make Kiddush, enjoy some good entertainment, recite Birkat Hamazon, and say “so long.”

The brotherhood of Congregation Mishkan Tefila has continued to use an internet connection with Rabino Jodorkovsky’s congregations for each annual World Wide Wrap event since then, and each time it provides the participants with a sense of spiritual fulfillment as well as a strong connection to fellow Jews around the world.

For more information about the implementation of this approach, write kpip@verizon.net.

Donald Grenadir, MD, has been the international chair of the FJMC World Wide Wrap for the past five years.