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Under the beautiful natural canopy of a rare Cedar of Lebanon tree in Arnold Arboretum, Temple Emeth’s morning minyan participants held a prayer service on 21 Elul. The congregants felt that praying under the tree — the most mentioned tree in the Bible and the one whose wood was used in the construction and adornment of Solomon’s Temple — would replicate in spirit and continuity the past and the teachings of the Torah. Services were led by Cantor Michael McCloskey and Rabbi Navah Levine and included the sounding of the Shofar. Rabbi Alan Turetz described the relationship of the tree to Torah portions and related the meaning in metaphorical terms to today’s struggle with life and the need for strength and flexibility. Minyan members believed this to the be the first congregation prayer service under the Cedar of Lebanon tree uniting us with the past and the people of the Torah.
This unique service was one of many excursions beyond Temple Emeth that the minyan group has embarked on. Minyan members visited the Vilna Shul in Boston — the home of many former relatives of the minyan worshippers — to learn about the historic structure. They have also visited the Longyear Museum, the bonsai plants at the Arnold Arboretum, the beech trees at Kent Street planted around 1838, the Olmsted (of Emerald Necklace fame) homestead, and the Transportation Museum in Brookline. They held a morning prayer service at the top of Larz Anderson Park and heard a lecture on the history of Brookline at the original school room at Larz Anderson.
The morning minyan group has become a cohesive, sharing “community.” Frequently the group goes out to breakfast after services and have come to the assistance and help of each other. They encourage others to attend morning minyan and to join them for breakfast and activities.