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Sun smiles for blessing ceremony

April 8, 2009 | 12:38 pm

Their prayers, it seems, were answered.

Local Jews who feared that overcast weather would ruin their plans today to recite a rare outdoor blessing of the sun awoke with relief to relatively clear skies.

Rain came and went Tuesday night, allowing Southland Jews to say "Birkat Hachama" shortly after sunrise, a celebration repeated in public gatherings around the world.

The sun blessing is recited every 28 years when the sun is said to reach the position it occupied when it was created 5,769 years ago, according to Jewish tradition.

The parting clouds delighted Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie of the North County Chabad Center in Yorba Linda.

As 50 people arrived at 8 a.m., the sun was hidden behind clouds. And so Eliezrie told everyone to run to the rear of the property and ascend a small hill to gain a better vantage point.

"As they were standing there, the sun began to emerge from the top of the clouds," Eliezrie said. "We all made the blessing.

"I told them there are two things to learn from this. If you want to do a mitzvah, sometimes you have to run," he said, using the Hebrew word loosely translated as a good deed. "And to accomplish something in life, you have to have perseverance."

Similar gatherings took place throughout Southern California, including some in the Pico Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, home to many synagogues and kosher restaurants.

One Westside Jewish leader said he believed that God had responded to the prayers of those who were eager for the sun to shine.

"We have a community of thrilled people this morning," said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, an expert in Jewish law and ethics. "We are overjoyed that the CEO of the universal weather service overruled the National Weather Service and ... demonstrated who is really in charge."

-- Duke Helfand

View photo gallery of Blessing of the Sun in Israel.