Schenectady County

Congregation to offer sun blessing

The sun plays a large part in everyone’s lives.

The sun plays a large part in everyone’s lives.

For Mishka Luft, a member of Congregation Agudat Achim in Niskayuna, the sun can directly affect her mood through seasonal affective disorder. It’s also a link to her father, an astronomer, and a youth spent looking up.

Wednesday morning, she’ll have the opportunity, along with Jews around the world, to thank God for the sun.

It’s a ceremony held only every 28 years.

“The sun is incredibly important to me,” Luft, 58, said Monday. “I may not be there the next time around. So I want to be there for this.”

An artist, Luft has been busy making a “sun wheel,” incorporating various parts of the ceremony into the piece, whose structure is made from willow branches.

Congregation Agudat Achim’s ceremony is to start at sunrise, 6:20 a.m., and be held on the congregation’s front lawn.

The ceremony is to include a short discussion of the meaning of the blessing, followed by a service with creative and traditional elements.

The blessing of the sun will be among the traditional elements. Psalms relating to the sun will also be read.

Among the more creative aspects will be the playing of the Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun.”

The ceremony, Birkat Hahammah, marks the moment when tradition says the sun returns to the same place as the moment of its creation, according to This will mark the 206th cycle of the sun’s full return, according to the site.

Wednesday evening also marks the first Seder for Passover. The connection of the events is coincidental.

Rabbi Ted M. Lichtenfeld said the blessing has as much relevance as ever, with the emphasis in recent years on environmental impacts and the move toward solar power.

“This is seen as an opportunity for a lot of Jews of all stripes to emphasize God’s creation and the duty to take care of the world,” Lichtenfeld said.

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