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The Rezadeira
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Two thousand years before the common era,

a Babylonian by the name of Abraham

travelled across the Orient.

He discovered a myriad of superstitions

that made of stone, wood and humans – gods,

and in their names wars were waged continuously.

All his life,

Abraham could not tolerate conflicts

and looked for ways to stop them.

Abraham raised his eyes to the sky

and discovered

a boundless

and infinitely harmonious Creation.

He thought to himself:

“beyond this earthly existence

must lie another way of living,

at peace

with one’s self

and with one another.”

Since that day,

he preached tirelessly

to all those that would listen.

His first converts

forsook their earthly existence,

destroyed their idols

and undertook to live in harmony

in an infinite universe.

His first converts

are the ancestors of the Jews of our time.

To this day,

the G-d of the Jews

has no bodily shape or form,

but consists of a set of rules

that can be summarized in a single axiom:

“Love your neighbor like yourself.”

All the rest is but a matter of interpretation.

At the beginning of the common era,

Jesus,

a descendant of Abraham,

observed that with a weapon,

Jewish or Roman,

human life was reduced to misery

to the advantage of the few.

Jesus raised his eyes to the sky

and discovered

a boundless

and infinitely harmonious creation.

He thought to himself

that beyond this earthly existence

must lie another way of living,

at peace

with one’s self

and with one another.

Since that day,

he preached tirelessly

to all those that would listen.

His first converts

forsook their earthly existence,

and undertook to live in harmony

in an infinite universe.

His first converts

are the ancestors of the Jews of our time.

To this day,

the G-d of the Jews

has no bodily shape or form,

but consists of a set of rules

that can be summarized in a single axiom:

“Love your neighbor like yourself.”

All the rest is but a matter of interpretation.

Armed with this vision,

the Jews dispersed

throughout the universe.

In 1497,

in the land of Portugal,

Jews lived peacefully

among their neighbors.

They knew much about navigation,

and possessed the skill that make any community thrive.

In 1497,

a man by the name of “Emmanuel”,

Hebrew for “G-d is in our midst,”

decided that the Jews living

in the land of Portugal,

would no longer be Jews

but would become Christians.

Children under the age of fourteen

were torn from their mother’s arms

to be raised by Christian families.

Jews who refused to convert

were condemned like criminals

and their children were exiled

on a deserted island, St. Tomé,

where reptiles devoured them alive.

For 500 years,

in the land of Portugal,

Jews,

now new Christians,

were called by their neighbors

“marranos” which means “pigs” in Portuguese.

For 500 years,

before entering a church,

the Marranos proclaimed these words:

“I enter this house of worship

but I adore neither the wood nor the stone in it.

For I adore with all my heart

the only G-d, the King of the Universe!.”

In early 1997,

a stranger came to Belmonte,

in northern Portugal.

He met an old marrano woman,

Rezadeira.

One day,

Rezadeira

locked herself

in her house

and poured out her heart before

an altar of candles

hidden in a small cupboard.

Rezadeira washes her hands and prays

Blessed be You

King of the Universe

who commanded us to wash our hands

as our ancestors did

in the Holy Land.

Rezadeira

opens an altar hidden in a small cupboard, lights the candles

and prays

Blessed be you

King of the Universe

who commanded us to light this candle

as our ancestors

did in the Holy Land.

May Your light

illuminate our lives

May Your light

illuminate our souls

May Your light

deliver us from oppression

May this prayer

reach You in the Heavens

Amen.

Rezadeira begins a monologue with God (Adonay)

A combination of confession, criticism and prayer.

Adonay,

“Where are the Jews?”

asks this stranger.

And still some reply

“ I am a Jew,”

as if nothing had happened,

as if all had been forgotten.

Forgive me, Lord, if I have said:

“No, we are not Jews!”

Forgive me

if I recited “Our Father in Heaven”

if I ate impure beasts

if I attended mass

if I crossed myself.

Forgive me

For telling my brother

to reject everything.

You know

that he is a nobody, and

that he value not his life

since You have forsaken us and abandoned us

to the Princes that only cherish earthly belongings.

Choral

Those that seek

only earthly belongings

know not

that what they own

does not belong to them.

Those that seek

only earthly belongings

forgot their duty

to widows and orphans.

Those that seek

only earthly belongings

sold us as slaves

throughout four corners of the world.

Those that seek

only earthly belongings

are nothing

without good deeds.

Rezadeira continues her monologue

Adonay, G-d of the universe,

knower of all things

You know

that we follow Your path

even if we are lost;

You know

that in our heart we remain still Jews,

even if some of us

have forgotten it,

the others remind us daily.

Even if we prayed fervently

we could never erase

our “reputation” as convert;

we never lost our “prominence” as Jews.

Useless is our own denial.

But now that the door is shut,

You know

that I am telling the truth.

Who is Jew

and who is not?

We are all Jews,

even those that don’t know it.

Jesus is a Jew.

Yes, Jesus is a Jew,

even if they don’t know it!

You Yourself

have told

Your prophets

that there is but one end;

all will seek Your salvation

on Your Temple Mount,

for All are One.

Adonay,

forgive me for asking

what are You waiting for?

Have we not wandered enough

atop the mountains of Belmonte?

And this stranger that You sent,

is it another test of Yours?

He says that his ancestors are our ancestors.

Marranos in Lisbon

or Cap Verde,

Jews in Amsterdam

or Marrakech.

In his eyes

I saw Your light shining;

The light that illuminates our way,

already 500 dark years,

an exile within another 2000-year exile!

Forgive me

G-d of Abraham,

God of Jesus,

if I ask You why

we still live in misery.

Haven’t You seen enough of our suffering,

God of mercy?

You heard the stranger

talk of all that we have forgotten.

He said that

with holy water,

his ancestors,

from Cohen,

they became

Jesus.

Blessed be they!

Their souls rest in Marrakech.

Choral

In bondage

I followed Your commandments

yet I was chastised.

I heard others say

“From whence comes their salvation?”

and I wondered.

I submitted to you

with all the Love and devotion I could spare,

but You did not come,

You have forsaken me.

Adonay,

show Your face,

illuminate my soul!

Rezadeira sings:

Adonay

purify me

with your water of salvation Choral

Adonay

forgive me

with your water of salvation Choral

Adonay

cure me

with your water of salvation Choral

Choral

with your water of salvation

with your water of salvation

with your water of salvation

give me peace.

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay,

with my right hand

on his head,

I blessed him:

Adonay, bless us

Adonay, protect us

Adonay, show us Your light

Adonay, grant us peace

Amen

And he said:

that his father rests in Heaven!

May his soul be in peace!

Rezadeira sings:

The one from whence he came

did what she could

to show him

the way of Moses

even though he was lost.

God of Israel

save him

from his pursuers

If he is not worthy enough,

remember

his ancestors

God of Israel

save him

from false witnesses

If he is not worthy enough

remember

the martyrs

God of Israel

save him

from stake

and flames

even if his merits

do not satisfy You.

God of Israel

grant him

eternal peace

and remember

remember!

God of Israel

bring us closer to Jerusalem

give us peace on earth.

He said:

From the Holy Land

he came

From the Promised Land

he brought news.

Israel!

May he be blessed.

His mother lives in Israel!

May his mother be blessed.

His mother sent him

to find the Jesus’ family in Belmonte!

Adonay, tell me,

am I dreaming?

Is he telling the truth?

Rezadeira sings:

(her hand upon her heart)

Adonay

at dawn

On Daniel’s wings

my prayers rise

Choral

Peace on earth

Celestial blessings

(her hand on her lips)

Adonay

at dawn

from Abraham’s lips

my prayers climb

Choral

Peace on earth

Celestial blessings

(her hand on her head)

Adonay

at dawn

In Moses’ name

my prayers mount

Choral

Peace on earth

Celestial blessings

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay,

Do our brothers truly dwell in the Holy Land?

Do they think of us?

Is our fate, their worry?

He says:

Their life is firmly grounded.

They cultivate the land

and eat from its fruits.

By day,

they search for

the lost sheep.

By night,

they guard the gathered flock.

He says:

From their mouths,

he brings us

blessings and invitations

to gather in Jerusalem

riding on eagle’s wings

or on whales backs!

Rezadeira sings:

May God

grant us

Choral before each verse

May God

grant us

Abraham’s faith

Noah’s clemency

Jacob’s happiness

Moses’s wisdom

Gideon’s courage

Jeremiah’s spirit

David’s repentance

Solomon’s knowledge

Tobie’s charity

Job’s patience

Choral before each verse

May God

grant us

so that we may gaze

upon the Lord’s delights

so that the Law of the universe

extends from here to Jerusalem

Choral and Rezadeira

Lord

God Adonay

Amen

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay

I have prayed to You for at least 100 years

and not a word did I hear from You.

14

For 500 years

my mother

and the mother of my mother have prayed to You

and not a word did they hear from You.

And now

You have sent us this stranger

wearing torn jeans

and long hair

like that of a young girl.

Is this Your way of telling us

that our penance has ended?

Adonay

Come into my dreams,

give me a sign,

as I am drifting into sleep.

Principle of principles

Dust and ashes I am,

if I have sinned,

my sins in bondage

are of no meaning.

On Judgment Day,

weigh my intent

and You will see

that I do not deserve

Your penalty.

Rezadeira sings:

Evening prayers

With Abraham’s keys

the door was locked

In my bed

I lay down

with Esther’s coat

I shielded myself

To Adonay

I entrusted my soul

In my dreams

the Archangel Gabriel

said:

fear not.

Adonay,

Amen,

May this prayer reach You.

At dawn, the next morning, Rezadeira rises, washes herself and recites:

May the angels praise the Creator who has made me

May the angels praise the Creator

who gave me

eyes to see

hands to touch

ears to hear

May the angels praise the Creator

who granted me understanding

May the angels praise the Creator who made me

Adonay, King of the Universe, Amen.

Rezadeira sings:

With dawn

I rose to sing

holy psalms

Choral

Adonay is my joy

Adonay is my faith

With the beauty of the dawn

the Almighty rose

Choral

Adonay is my joy

Adonay is my faith

With the light of day

my prayer

rises to the Heavens

Choral

Adonay is my joy

Adonay is my faith

Rezadeira washes her hands and prepares the morning bread and recited the following:

Adonay

Blessed be You who returned

the soul to my body,

on this beautiful morning;

but tell me why have You not sent me

the Archangel Gabriel?

Maybe You think

I do not deserve it.

But You are wrong.

In bondage

I followed in Your path,

Without Cohanim,

Without Leviim.

And now

You leave me alone,

with a stranger wearing torn jeans.

(musical emphasis on italics below)

And alone once again,

I must decide

if the exile has ended,

if Jerusalem is once again within our reach.

Offering of the halla

(If Pessach is near, sing the following)

Rezadeira throws a ball of dough into the fire and repeats three times:

Choral

Adonay

Shema’

Rezadeira:

Lord

accept our sacrifice

even though we have sinned

Lord

Blessed be You

who Knows all

Choral

Adonay shema’ tefilatenu

Offering of the halla (for Passover)

Choral

Adonay

Shema’

Rezadeira

Adonay

accept our sacrifice

as You did for our brothers

in the Promised Land

Adoany

feed Your wandering flock

as You fed

our ancestors

in the Holy Land

Adonay

forgive us

Knower of all

Adonay

may we celebrate Passover

in peace

May our prayer

rise to the Heavens

Choral

Adonay shema’ tefilatenu

Rezadeira at the table

Adonay

This stranger that You have sent us wearing torn jeans

recites Your blessings in Your holy language.

He blessed Your bread

in a way we do not know;

but what we know

comes from You.

Rezadeira prays:

May all that we eat

bring us abundance

May all that we drink

bring us health

May all that is left

bring us Your blessing

May this prayer rise to the Heavens

Blessed be the King of the Universe

Amen

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay,

the stranger thinks

ours is a beautiful prayer.

If it is so beautiful,

why do You not hear us?

Why have You abandoned us in this double exile?

Did it not suffice

that we be Jews in exile,

we also had to be marranos in bondage?

Adonay

I have been talking

to You for years.

You are the only one

with whom I dare speak my mind;

So, do not be cross,

if I share with You,

my most sincere thoughts.

I do not agree

with Your judgment of exile;

but, I thank You,

for not condemning us

to depend on others.

Rezadeira sings the prayers following meals and rises.

Blessed be Adonay

who nourishes us

Blessed be the Almighty

who preserves us

from dependence

at all times

God of the Universe

Gabriel

sings Your glory

Choral

Blessed be

the King of the Universe

Amen

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay,

This stranger

with the long hair

and the torn jeans

wants to know everything.

If he is Your messenger,

forgive me for having doubts.

After all,

You have told us nothing

and You give us no sign,

and we have already suffered enough from slanderers.

But even so,

we did not loose hope.

So, I hide nothing from him,

in case he might be Your angel.

Just in case that,

in my old age,

You decide to show me Your face

or light my way,

I taught him

all that I learned from my mother,

may she rest in peace,

I showed him how,

even in this dark exile,

we have not forgotten Your commandments.

The ritual slaughtering of a chicken

Blessed be

the King of the Universe

who created animals

for our nourishment.

Blessed be

the King of the Universe

who forgives

those who take life for nourishment

for the love of the Almighty

Rezadeira recites:

Adonay,

this stranger

that You have sent us wearing torn jeans

finds this prayer beautiful too.

He said

that angels cry

when they hear us pray.

And, I saw him hide more than one tear away.

Adonay,

If angels cry,

may he be one of Your angels?

And You,

God,

do You hear us?

Adonay,

sometimes I feel

that this stranger

that You sent us

with torn jeans

likes our prayers too much.

Sometimes I think

that he will not lead us to Jerusalem

but stay here.

(music to highlight the italics below)

Adonay

tell me, is it possible

that Jerusalem is no longer there

but here?

Is it possible

that Jerusalem is

where one’s happiness is found?

Adonay,

this stranger that You sent us

and who speaks Your holy language so well,

wants to know everything.

He bid me to take him to the cemetery

to pray for the grandmother of all his grandmothers.

How could I deny him

such a prayer?

When I entered the cemetery,

I recited the prayer that I learned

the day my grandmother died:

Adonay,

deliver these souls,

as they were living beings,

like us,

deserving of the wind of life.

Adonay,

accept their prayers,

for we shall join You as they have:

lifeless!

Adonay,

let us enter and leave,

this valley of tears,

with life within us.

May this prayer

rise to the Heavens

Amen

Rezadeira continues her monologue:

Adonay,

We came and went in peace

from the valley of tears,

where our dead still rest,

lost,

between the crosses

on which You hung

Your son Jesus.

23

And the stranger found his grandmother,

Tanya of Jesus,

daughter of Marrano,

daughter of Mathatias.

He placed a stone on her tomb,

and lit her path to You

with candles from the Holy Land.

He spoke to her in Your holy language,

as if she was still among us,

but he did not say a prayer.

He said

that my prayer was enough

and that angels

preferred it

to any other prayer.

I wanted to tell him

that I hoped You liked it as much.

I hope you do,

because I have been praying for a long time

and You never answered me,

as if You had never heard me.

So You see,

even I,

who has walked in Your path,

in this dark exile,

I am lost of understanding.

I did not know

if I had to strew

the tomb of the saint grandma’ Jesus

with white and pure flour

or plain hard stones.

In the end

I did as I always did.

I strew flour

on my ancestors’ tomb,

and Tanya Jesus

was among them.

24

I recited the prayer I had learned:

Adonay,

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

You who cares for all Your children on earth,

have mercy

on the souls of our dearly departed.

If they are not worthy enough,

Remember,

for their sake,

the virtues

of our ancestors

who revealed Your light to us.

Remember,

for their sake,

the virtues

of our martyrs

who praised Your name on earth.

Have mercy

on our brothers

in the Land of Israel.

May the souls

of those who rest in peace

in this valley of tears

rise to the Heavens

Amen.

Rezadeira continues her monologue:

Then, we walked

along the winding path

that always leads

to the village that You had destined for us,

without saying a word,

as if everything had already been said.

We gave

charity

to the poor gathered

on the footstep of the church

without entering it.

We visited

old Mendes,

who is sick

and who cannot see anymore.

And the old Mendes

took the stranger’s hand

between her hands

and could not let go of it.

And she spoke to him,

as if she knew him from a long time ago:

« Daniel!

You have returned!

I prayed God so often.

All I wanted was to see Your face again.

And You came.

Now,

I can go in peace .»

Then the old Mendes

recited the prayer for the ill

and the stranger recited it with her:

God of Israel,

On the day of my affliction

hide me

in Your Tabernacle,

You who has promised redemption. (choral)

On the night of my supplications

take me

under Your wings,

You who has promised redemption. (choral)

26

I will praise all the days of my life

Your sweetness,

because You have promised redemption (choral)

Every night, with great joy,

I will gaze upon Your marvels,

because You have promised redemption. (choral)

May this prayer (choral)

rise to the Heavens

Amen

Then we stopped

at my daughter’s house,

as if destiny had ordered it.

And this is where

the stranger

saw my grandchild,

Tanya Jesus,

as if it was written.

There,

he repeated after me

the prayer reserved for those

who make a pilgrimage

to the grave of their ancestors:

Adonay,

You who have blessed Abraham

and his descendants

to this day,

bring Your blessings

to this bread

to this table

and to all those sitting here.

Adonay

deliver us

from danger.

Adonay

guard our soul

and the souls

of our ancestors.

May this prayer

rise to the Heavens

Amen.

And he repeated after me

all that I said

as if he had always been in our midst.

And for the first time,

I asked his name.

“Daniel,”

he simply answered,

as if my

own grandson

Daniel was answering

my question.

And his mother’s name is Esther,

like my mother and my great grandmother,

and like my Santa Rainha

Esther.

(musical higlight build up)

Adonay

tell me,

is he real

this stranger

that You sent us

without a sign or warning?

Is he the man or the angel

who will lead us

back to You?

Or is he

the misleading image

of an evil angel

who escaped Your powers?

But what is the point

to all these questions?

I know that You will not answer me!

And this stranger,

with jeans and long hair,

Daniel, in flesh and blood,

was there,

right in front of me,

sharing our meal

like the angel Daniel

in the lions’ den.

Suddenly,

I caught him looking

at my grandchild,

Tanya.

And I understood

that even if You don’t answer me,

my comforting angel was here.

Daniel will take Tanya

and stay in our midst

to deliver us,

as it is promised

in Your Holy Bible.

Choral sings

Hear,

Oh! Children of Israel,

Daniel is heralding

our delivery.

Count the days

walk in his path

forgiveness is nigh.

With a humble heart

looking up to the sky

Adonay will gather

his flock

from Lisbon

from Babylon

in the Holy Land

at the foot of His temple

in Jerusalem

Rezadeira continues her monologue:

Adonay,

You who knows

that because of excess of sacrifices

Your temple lost its worth.

You who knows

what Titus and Mathatias

intended.

You who knows

that it was written

that the hands who built

Your temple

would turn it into rubbles.

You who knows

that judeu

only means “help” (ad judar).

You also know

that we have

walked in Your path.

So

no matter

who is this Daniel;

we will look

after him,

with torn jeans

or long hair.

We will share

with him

the best of our fruits.

We will not forget

that thanks to our mother’s good deeds

our ancestorswere delivered

from bondage in Egypt

and from here, from Belmonte.

Adonay

God of the Universe

God of Jacob

God of Rachel

in Your name

I have united Tanya and Daniel.

Rezadeira sings

Adonay

follow us with Your gaze.

On the way

of our wandering

Choral deliver us

From slander

Choral deliver us

Where the sun rises

Choral deliver us

Where the moon shines

Choral deliver me! deliver me! deliver me!

Adonay

follow us with Your gaze.

And we will walk

in Your path

in peace.

Choral

Adonay,

God of the Universe,

Bless Jerusalem

Where Your flock strays.

Ottawa, mars 1997.

Other prayers

Wedding prayer

In the name of the God

of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Your are now wed

and I recommend You unto Him.

Supplication

Sabaot

macolares cobrado

You know

that in bondage

far from Jerusalem

with no Cohanim

with no sanctuary

we cannot

carry out our duties

forgive us

deliver us

from hardship

as You did

for Israel in Egypt

as You did

for Esther from Haman

May our children

abide by Your commandments

Adonay,

in my thought

Adonay,

on my lips

Adonay,

in my heart

whispers in the dark

no priests

no books

only faint words

in the dark

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