Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sometimes Judaism drives me crazy

This morning, I was driving to our Conservative Egalitarian shul. I was giving the d'var torah (congregants give the d'var in the summer when the rabbi is away), and also helping to set up the kiddush (the Sisterhood sets up the kiddush in the summer as well). From the sublime to the mundane, I know.

So on the way, I passed a group of about ten young Chassidic-looking men, walking along the road, looking very hot and tired. Hmm, I thought, why is a group of ten Chassidic men walking through our town? It's just not a common occurrence.

I thought about it a bit, and realized that they were probably walking to the Chabad House in our town for Shabbat services.

Then I thought about it a little more, and realized that they walked right past our shul on their way. Did they even notice it? And if they had, would they have even considered praying there? I think not. You see, our Conservative Egalitarian shul would not meet their standards. We don't have a mechitza. We allow women to participate fully in services, to have aliyot, to read Torah. So no, they would not have felt comfortable at our services.

And that makes me very uncomfortable.

So then I get to shul, and I go into the kitchen, and of course the lights aren't on, so I have to turn on the lights in the kitchen, and in the social hall, which I'm sure you aren't supposed to do on Shabbat, but did I have a choice? And then K and I started pulling things out of the freezer and putting table clothes on tables, and pouring wine and juice, and cutting things up and putting things out...And the question is, we aren't supposed to be working on Shabbat, but how come it's okay for us to be doing all this work to set up the kiddush?

It just drives me crazy. The hypocrisy. The contradictions.

But in the end, the d'var went well, the service was fine, the kiddush was tasty, and a good time was had by all. Even the Chassidic men probably made it to the Chabad house and were happy. Just another Shabbat in our little town.


OneTiredEma said...

(Hi, found you via Ask Moxie.)

But would you have felt comfortable at Chabad? It kind of cuts both ways. What if there were only way to express Jewish identity? Somehow I think that would lose more Jews than are already unaffiliated/disinterested.

I understand your feeling about "not working" being a lot of work sometimes. In the same-but-opposite vein, my daughter has struggled in the past with not being able to create art on Shabbat, because she does not think of that as work--it is her passion. But we are able to trade it for special things that only happen on Shabbat (children's tefila + treats at shul, eating the challah she makes with me, special touches at meals, etc).

FollowUpQuestion said...

Amens all around, Adena! I question the same things.

Anonymous said...

"And the question is, we aren't supposed to be working on Shabbat, but how come it's okay for us to be doing all this work to set up the kiddush?
This exact question is dealt withby Rabbi David Fohrman here:
The 3rd lecture on the page primarily addresses the nature of and reason for the prohibition of work on Shabbat. Your question comes up about halfway through the lecture but much of the first half of the lecture is necessary introduction.
Hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I forgot to link it.