This morning my father attended what I believe was the first public recitation of Birkat hachama in 28 years.
About 30 people were in shul in Wellington New Zealand this morning for Birkat HaChama.
Here is my father's account of the event:
Amazing service this morning, over 30 people turned up for the siyum for the fast of the first born and the blessing of the sun afterwards. Some of them were Jewish. (or rather some were not, including the astronomer who gave the talk on Birkat HaHamah).Here's how it was reported in the Dominion Post:
There is an article on the Dominion about the event celebrated once every 28 years, with a photo of Haim Dovrat. He is brilliant at promoting Judaism in Wellington. He should be writing the book on how to build a community.
Sun gets birthday blessingBy KELLY BURNS - The Dominion Post
Last updated 09:32 08/04/2009
Kiwi Jews were the first in the world to give the Sun a birthday blessing in a one-in-28-year ceremony this morning.
As daylight broke, Jews around the country recited prayers to celebrate their belief that Earth was created 5769 years ago.
Wellington Rabbi Chaim Dovrat said it was a ''restaging of the heavens as they were at the beginning of time''.
According to the Talmud, the central book of laws and traditions of Judaism, once every 28 years the Sun returns to its precise position in the sky - at the same time and day of the week as the moment of its creation.
The Sun rose at 6.24am today, but Rabbi Dovrat led the rare blessing from the Webb St synagogue at 7.45am.
About 40 people, ranging in age from 5 to 77 and including non-Jews, were at the synagogue for the celebration. "It was surprisingly beautiful morning. My wife said I must surely have a good connection with God, because it was suppose to be cloudy and rainy but at 7.45am the sun was so clear."
He said it was a special celebration as the 7500 Jews in New Zealand would be the first in the world to give the blessing of the Sun. "It's a rare occasion, something you only get to do once or twice in your life."
After the blessing in Hebrew and English there was wine; "Then it was, see you in 28 years," Rabbi Dovrat joked.
For only the third time in history, the blessing falls on the eve of Passover, Pesach, a celebrated holiday in the Jewish calendar.
Birkat Hachama - or blessing of the Sun - happens every 28 years as Judaism believes the Sun returns to its time and place at creation.
Today is the 206th cycle of the Sun aligning with its position when created
Jews believe the Earth was created 5769 years ago and the Sun was made on Wednesday, the fourth day of creation.
Today, at the first rays of sunshine, Jews went outside, faced east and recited prayers in Hebrew and English and psalms.