From camp flings to Tu B’Av (the Jewish Valentine’s Day), the summer months are a prime time for coupling. But if you’re still looking for your beshert (soulmate), then it might time to make a pilgrimage to the north of Israel to Amuka, home of the Jewish people’s very own love oracle.
Located near the mystical city of Safed, Amuka is the burial place of Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel, a rabbi in Roman-ruled Judea. Legend has it that ben Uzziel died unmarried or childless (accounts vary as to which one it was) and expressed deathbed regrets that he hadn’t started a family with a nice Judean girl.
In the 17th century, Kabbalists living in Safed began the practice of visiting ben Uzziel’s tomb to pray for a soulmate. The most auspicious dates for this are said to be 26 Sivan (Uzziel’s yarzheit, or death date) or on Rosh Chodesh, the day of the new moon. It is said that those who complete the ritual will find their soulmate within one year.
Today, in modern Israel, lonely hearts still make the journey to Amuka, often in the dark of night. It’s customary to pray at ben Uzziel’s tomb, and for women to ascend to the roof to walk in a circle seven times, mimicking the marriage ritual of encircling the groom. They also leave behind scarves and scraps of fabric (though this is technically against the rules).
So does praying at Amuka actually work? The jury is still out, though Israeli media often features meet-cute profiles of couples who connected through the power of Amuka around Tu B’av. Plus, many people swear that their cousin’s uncle’s old roommate totally met their beshert this way. So, if you’re looking to couple by Rosh Hashanah, it couldn’t hurt to ask Rabbi ben Uzziel.
* * * *
Sharing a Shabbat Table, Even During Social Distancing: Shabbat Dinners for Young Jews
One of the most common places Jews connect is around the Shabbat table. For many of us, “Friday night dinner” is sacred family time, when we rest, recharge and spend quality time with loved ones.
But what if you, like many Jews in their 20s and 30s, don’t have a Shabbat table to go to? What if you live far away from your family, don’t have kids of your own or don’t belong to a synagogue?
Now, thanks to a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, you can go to the Philly hub of OneTable. This organization empowers Jewish young adults to build an enduring Shabbat practice by helping them host and find Shabbat dinners in their area. Not only does it provide logistical support through a convenient app, it also reimburses hosts for food expenses.
Since the Philadelphia hub of OneTable was established, it has seen an increase in the number of dinners per week, and engaged 47 hosts and 851 individuals through 120 Shabbat dinners.
Celebrating Shabbat During COVID-19
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, OneTable had to pivot rapidly to adapt its business model to the reality of social isolation.
OneTable began supporting in-person Shabbat dinners for those isolating together or individuals living alone, as well as virtual group Shabbats via Zoom. During the first weeks of the pandemic, OneTable supported more than 1,400 dinners across the country, including 30 in Philadelphia. It also created its own lineup of Friday night programming including OneTable Live and a Shabbat ShAlone guide.
When time itself feels distorted, many participants say the ritual of Shabbat is more important than ever. “It was so nice to all be together virtually,” said one host. “I think specifically for people who are alone in an apartment right now in a city, this actually made [our] week.”
Looking to meet Philly Jews in their 20s and 30s? Check out NextGen, our program for young professionals at Jewishphilly.org/nextgen.