A prayer in Milner Street

At 7pm every night, a shofar blares from a sound system at number 14 Milner Street in Top Town. The street is filled with colourful lights, families come into their front gardens and answer the call to prayer.

“We just want to pray for the doctors, nurses, police and others serving in the frontlines during this time,” said Sean Russell, owner of number 14.

The devotion is held over 15 minutes every evening – a short prayer followed by a song and thereafter everyone goes back into their homes. While the neighbours hardly see each other, the lights stretch far into the dark, each a family taking time to remember and pray for workers, the town and the country during this unprecedented crisis.

“Goodnight neighbour,” a whistle or two, then the quiet that preceded 10 minutes earlier returns, just a few minutes later.

“About a year ago we started aWhatsapp group for Milner Street, just for the small things…to tell each other when the garbage truck is coming around, when someone’s dog is out and things like that.”

So when Russell mooted the idea of playing loud music and holding devotion, the reception was “awesome”.

“We have had absolutely no complaints. In fact, the only complaint is ‘we cannot hear you.’ It is an uplifting thing, everyone is stuck at home. Every night we come out with our torches and do something as a community,” he said.

While the prayer may have started in Milner Street, 10 other points around Top Town have since been set up and synchronized.

Lihai Bercovich, who has a point at his house in Compassberg Road said: “It is a great idea to stand together in solidarity with all our frontline workers. It also brings hope and upliftment during these difficult times.”

Frontier Hospital nurse Althea Jackson said: “It makes the challenges we are facing a bit easier.

“I work four consecutive nights from seven to seven. At 7pm when I wait at the gate, that is when they start. To hear the horn, the singing the praise and shouting, it gives you goosebumps. It is nice to know that even though they are not there with you, there are people thinking about you,” she said.

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