Crying and Dancing At The Waldorf Astoria in Yerushalayim

What was to be a once in a lifetime trip for a couple at the Yerushalayim Waldorf Astoria on Shabbos, turned into a emotional experience they never could have expected

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For years, my wife has dreamed of spending a Shabbos at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria (near the old city). This weekend, after a great deal of saving and planning, we made that happen.

The hotel is stunning. The food is next level. But I never expected to spend my Shabbos morning crying.

Friday night, we realized that there was a large group of Yidden staying at the hotel. I politely made conversation with a couple of them, and learned that they were a large extended family.

Their brother/son/father/cousin was killed four months ago in the line of duty in Gaza. Last weekend, our deceased hero’s wife gave birth to a baby boy. Shabbos morning would be the bris.

A special man, Rabbi Shai Graucher and the B’Yachad Nenatzeiach Standing Together organization booked the entire extended family into the Waldorf for Shabbos. He arranged everything, from rooms and meals to the entire bris. He even arranged for visitors and VIPs in Yerushalayim to join the bris. I looked around Friday night, but didn’t see Shai anywhere.

There were special signs up all over the hotel celebrating the bris. There were candy bags given out to all the kids in the hotel Friday night. And everything was done beautifully, with design and class, as befitting the venue.

I ran into Shai early on Shabbos morning during Davening and realized he was wearing a hospital bracelet. I asked him if everything was OK, and he told me his wife just had a baby girl at 1:30 a.m.! He got her settled and then walked from the hospital, on the outskirts of the city all the way to the hotel to make sure he could join the bris!

And what a bris it was. Hundreds and hundreds of people came—family members, hotel guests, and strangers who heard about it through word of mouth. Everyone was singing songs of Emunah.

When the mother said the blessing over the bris instead of the father, she struggled to get the words out through her tears. She ended up screaming the blessing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

But a bris is supposed a happy time. So while we were crying, Shai jumped on a chair and started singing traditional songs of joy. Everyone started dancing. The small circle got larger and larger. As we grew to encircle the entire ballroom, Shai, still standing on a chair, changed the song to Hoshia Es Amecha. This song is traditionally sung on Simchas Torah, which this year was shattered by violence on the morning of Simchas Torah.

Nobody wanted the dancing to end. Nobody left the circle to go to lunch or talk to friends.

One hotel guest, a visitor from Toronto, turned to me and said, “This is the most beautiful and meaningful bris I have ever seen.” None of us knew each other, but for just a moment, we were so close.

After Shabbos, while waiting for the valet to bring our car, we saw the mom. She was being helped by her own mother, as she wheeled a stroller with her newborn out the door, with a jumble of little kids in tow. To face the reality of life as a newly single mother with little kids and a newborn. would like to wish Mazal Tov to Shai and Tobi Graucher on the birth of their baby girl, Ahuva Rivka.

Video from the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem on Erev Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos:

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1 Comment

  • Amazing 03/16/2024 | ו' אדר ב' התשפ"ד

    This is beautiful

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