Saturday, May 28, 2005

85. Circles

The seats were arranged in concentric circles and I found a spot in the last ring, squinting in the sun that spread like a beach through the open walls and onto the cabin floor. A man in jeans and a long white shirt, whom I recognized as the friendly guy from the bus who walked up and down the aisle and offered people water from a large bottle of Poland Spring, took a chair in the inner row. He picked up a narrow wooden drum, wedged it under his elbow and against the side of his body, and closed his eyes and started to play a complex rhythm. There was singing from the back, quietly at first, then louder as the room filled with people. After a few moments the man put down his drum and picked up a siddur: "Please turn to page 252," he said. I realized, with surprise, that this must be the rabbi, sitting among the sixty of us just like a real person. Now the sun was setting, casting long orange streaks through the roof window and creating patterns like ribbons in between the rows of our summer sandals, and I could hear crickets outside in the grass trying to compete with our music.

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