Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To Hop Shuls or Not to Hop?

I once heard a rabbi speak disparagingly against the Internet saying that one does not discover something "accidentally" as one would flipping the pages of the Times.  Well, this post will prove him wrong and validates the literally hours I spend tangentially following ideas and leads.

Jewcy apparently has a Religion and Beliefs column titled "Shul Hopping" by Joe Winkler, a shrewd and skeptical writer.  This article shares his concerned voice about davening in a person's home, what he calls a "DIY (do it yourself) Prayer Party.

I also enjoyed a previous installment of Shul Hopping "Synagogues of the Bourgeois: with the following honest reflection:

What emerged as clear is that apparently my soul yearns for Romantic prayer, a singsong prayer that taps into the essence of my being. I chafe at the hint of formality or rigidity, but I must realize that we each tap into different aspects of prayer. If God represents both our Father and our King, then part of prayer entails acting as if we stand before a king. You do not yell, even in supplication, at a King. You do not dress down, or engage in idle chatter, or scrimp on the expenses of a sanctuary for a King. You act with decorum; you follow the prescribed guidelines, and feel the majesty of the King of Kings. For me, though I tend to relate to God as a father, why should I pass judgment upon those who also feel his august presence? But the biases, I realized, bore deeper than this.

And this amusing comment:

I noticed that despite the differences between Orthodox and Conservative shuls, certain customs or characteristics persist. For some reason, no matter the religious venue, no one sits in the front row. People, as they stagger in, mostly sit in the back and next to the exit. We fear the front of shuls the same way we fear the front of an assembly in school, or the front of the classroom. Additionally, I felt shocked to find out that we eat the same Kiddush food. The same Kiddush food winds itself through Chasidic, to Modern Orthodox, to Conservative shuls: egg salad, chopped liver, pound cake, tuna salad, marble cake, more marble cake, Tam Tam-like crackers, seven layer cake, jelly cookies, gefilte fish, and tiny cups half full of bad kosher grape juice or wine. Also, one bottle of cheap alcohol. Strangely, I assumed, if the Conservative denomination can make changes in Jewish Law, can they not make changes to Kiddush? Is this uniformity of Kiddush the manipulations of a secret society, an unspoken rule or custom? Also, and I cannot believe this shocks me, but reading from the Torah takes time and is mostly boring everywhere, no matter the type of synagogue.
I hope the Joe will continue to wander and would love to see his review of my shul.  As always, comments are welcome.

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