Identity, Religion

Last minute advice to survive neverending services

“…it’s never too late to start reclaiming your relationship with the words,” writes Jerusalemite Brian Blum:

So every year when Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur come around, I have the same problem with all those old-fashioned words. Now, before you call me a heretic, hear me out. It’s not like I’m going to stop going to synagogue or remain part of the community on these festive days: My commitment to a Jewish lifestyle transcends any transitory difficulties I may have with the liturgy. But it would be nice if the text wasn’t so archaically unapproachable.

Sound familiar? Shul may not be the choice for every Jew, but for those of us who plan on being there and may be carrying an ounce or two of dread, it’s worth a read.
My advice: take a walk, streatch, bring extra reading materials and let yourself have a day to reflect, while joining with a community of others.
To our loyal Jewschool readers, I wish you an easy and meaningful fast. May this be a Shabbat Shabbaton for you — a complete day of rest for your body, mind, and soul.

4 thoughts on “Last minute advice to survive neverending services

  1. Did anyone else feel alienated at Yom Kippur services? I went alone to services, since it is a comtemplative day and because my closest friends don’t always choose the same shul as I do, and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Doesn’t anyone go to shul alone anymore? One of my favorite buddhist teachers says we should have at least one place in our lives (preferably a place of spiritual practice) where we don’t have to be a personality. By that she means a place where we don’t have to play a role or be known, but rather just to “be”. I find that hard to do in Jewish contexts, where everyone seems to know everyone.
    On a somewhat contradictory, but related, note – do we live in an unfriendly community? I tend to think that people are simply shy or preoccupied with their own concerns, but I have to say that people in our community aren’t too good at that “saying hello” thing. When I ride the bus through Harlem, all the church ladies are saying “hello, everybody” and wishing everyone a “blessed day”. I wish we could cultivate a bit more of that spirit.

  2. this year I stopped going to any shul that required tickets. I gave up going to the poetry fest that the reform shul I had gone to for last few years has become. I can only read meaningless poetry for so long. I love my old rabbi there, but just can’t stomach another year of the gates of prayer/days of awe poetry.So after lurking in Chabad classes for a while, I went to Kol Nidre service at Chabad. It was the most beautiful, meaningful service. I relate to the younger Chabad rabbis even though I am in my 40s. The crowd was welcoming, the sermon eye opening. I will be a more frequent worshipper there. I did not look to the back of the book to see when the service would be over.The Chazzan had the most amazing voice and it was great to hear a male chant, rather than the operatic female shreiks that I have become accustomed to ( ie…Sim Shalom)

  3. I am with you ont eh desire for solitude on YK. While, normallly, I revel in the community aspect of prayer, since I was 16, I have focused on a rabbi’s advise, and tried to make YK a day of private meditation and aloneness. I wrap myself with a tallit over my head, and try to refrain from speech as much as possible. This year, I went down to Penn for YK. Not because there was anythign particularly exciting there, but I knew that I would know virtually nobody, and be able to walk in silence and serenity to and from prayers.

  4. You’ve read my mind. I only go to Shul alone. Not as a choice, but in my small college town I don’t have any Jewish friends. Everyone at Temple is a great deal older than me, and even though it is a Reform Temple, they are still involved in their little groups. There is a woman I thought I had gotten pretty close to the past year (since I started attending) who completely blew me off on Monday! I went over to say hello before service started and she said to me; “This isn’t a social occasion”, even though right after that she was conversing with many people. Anyway, yes….alone….and Jewish….

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