Saturday, December 01, 2007

Not Such a Bad Jew

I went to temple for the first time in about 30 years last night. It was kind of nice. The motivation to go was my girl. She's usually with her dad on Friday nights, but she's staying here full-time for the next couple of weeks since her dad is out of town. She knows she's at least part Jewish, but she had never been to temple, so I figured it was a chance for her to check it out. In a nice surprise, my boyfriend, an atheist who was raised Catholic, decided to join us too.
The temple we went to is a reform temple. I grew up going to a conservative temple, so it was pretty deifferent from what I remember. The weirdest thing to me was that apparently it was ok not to wear a yarmulke in the sanctuary. I mean, wtf? I wore one anyway. I couldn't not wear one after the way I was indoctrinated as a child.
Anyway, the service was nice. There were about 15 members of the congregation in attendance, mostly older folks. People were friendly and welcoming and made a point to come over and say hello and introduce themselves. The rabbi plays a 12-string guitar and a lot of the prayers were set to music in more modern arrangements. Later on in the ceremony when they got to the Aleinu, the Mourners' Kaddish and the Kiddush I found I remembered the words and the melodies and could still sing them. After the service everyone went and had some nice refreshments and stayed to chat.
I liked being there. I enjoyed the service and the sense of community. I am honestly not sure how I feel about the idea of God. I tend to think that what people call God really refers to our higher nature rather than the existence of some external entity that controls the show. But aside from the God part (if I can say that) I liked a lot of what I read and heard in the service-- the emphasis on doing good and helping others and peace for all nations, on prayer for those for are suffering and remembering those who have passed on. I also liked that my girl could at least get a glimpse for herself about what it's all about. I've heard her refer to herself as Jewish more than once and although she has a handle on some of the cultural aspects of it, I always felt bad that she had never experienced anything about the religion. I don't expect she'll attend Hebrew school or anything, but she at least has had a taste and something to go on if she decides to pursue it more at some other time. I might go back again. I'm not so sure what it means to go if I'm not so into the God part of things, but I am interested in getting involved in some of the volunteer work they do and I'd at least like to be familiar with the community.

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