Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shabbat Services

Last night, J and I went to Shabbat at the synagogue we are joining.  We had been once before earlier in the summer, but the rabbi has been on sabbatical in Israel all summer, and at our previous Friday evening service, J and I literally made an even dozen worshippers in the sanctuary.  We were a little worried that the Jewish community in the area would be dancing for joy over the addition of another 10% of the current Jewish population.  (Although, I did mention to J after that service that it might be an interesting exercise to see if the two synagogues in the area might compete for our membership.  I had visions of each synagogue wooing us, ala basketball teams trying to sign LeBron James.  I thought we might be able to score a Hummer with 6 DVD players out of it.  J thought it unlikely.)

Well, with the welcome back service and dinner for Rabbi P, the turnout was MUCH bigger.  It's still not the kind of community either of us grew up in on the east coast, but it no longer seems like a small, half-full JCC bus broke down on the way to Chicago and the passengers decided to just make a life in Lafayette, rather than try to fix it.

Several things struck me.  First, there was a prayer that I had not heard before about the importance of shabbat.  It talked about how the sabbath provides rest and holiness to all.  It ended with the words: may the shabbat abide.

To me, of course, this is a clear reference to Jeff Bridges as The Dude.  ("The Dude abides," in case you don't speak Lebowski.)  I think it even fits.  The Dude is taking her easy for all us sinners.  So I'm thinking the Coen brothers must have known this prayer. I was delighted by it.  Because on the seventh day, the Dude rested.  (After a grueling 6 days of doing nothing.)

Then, there was a moment when the cantor invited everyone to pray personally in silence.  I prayed for a safe and easy delivery.  Then I hit the edit button.  Easy.  Hmmm.  I don't really believe in easy.  Anything worth having is worth working for.  So instead of easy, I prayed for a safe delivery that I could handle.  Then I added an asterisk, because I figure if I'm going to pray, I ought to have footnotes.  I wanted to annotate the prayer to add that while I'm sure I could handle a lot, to please not test me too too much because I'm kind of a wimp.  I would have then added a prayer endnote to the prayer footnote (regarding the fact that I was sure I could handle whatever was thrown at me, but I just wanted to feel confident in my ability to withstand pain) when the cantor started the Haftorah portion.  (If you're wondering, no, I can't explain exactly what a Haftorah portion is).  That was when I decided that I really overthink things.

After the service was a dinner to welcome the rabbi back.  We sat at a table with an adorable older couple originally from New York and a family of four that would soon be a family of six, as mom is preggo with twin boys.  The father of the soon-to-be enormous family had a traditional Israeli/Hebrew name that I could not remember to save my life.  In my head, it was Kal-El, as in Superman's name on Krypton.  I tried to take a surreptitious peek at their place card, but it just said "The B family" which was no help at all.  I asked J if he remembered when we got in line for the buffet, and he said he thought the man's name had an A in it.  (Mental note--if you are the member of the marriage whose job it is to remember names, it is generally not a good idea to ask your partner if he remembers the name of a new acquaintance.  There's a reason why it's your job).  I guess I can always claim pregnancy brain next time I meet Kal-El. Or, I could just call him Kal-El.  Guess which solution I like better?  (A nice Jewish lawyer named Kal-El B.  That would be awesome).

We left after dinner, missing the concert that concluded the evening, because by that point I was getting pretty tired.  (I'm generally sleeping only 6-7 hours a night right now.  I know in a month that will sound heavenly, but I've always been a solid 9 hours kind of sleeper, unless I'm really behind on my rest and need more like 13).  It was lovely, though, feeling like the synagogue welcomed us.  Still waiting on that Hummer.

1 comment:

  1. The Hebrew Scripture are divided into Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim (Torah = the first 5 books, Neviim is Hebrew for "Prophets", and Ketuvim is Hebrew for "Writings"), sometimes referred to by the abbreviation TaNaKh. Every Torah portion (from the big 5 that Moses wrote) is assigned a haftarah portion from either the Prophets or the Writings. The haftarah portion is usually on the same theme, or somehow helps us understand the Torah portion. Haftarah is scripture, but not from THE Book. You might think of it as semi-precious scripture. Traditionally, Torah is not read on Friday night, only Saturday morning. And that's all I have to say about that. (Unless you have questions, in which case I could probably say more.)