Judaism is an ancient tradition with its roots in an agricultural society. That means that for the first thousands of years summertime found the Jews out tending the flocks and the crops. Not surprisingly then, summer lacks the plethora of holidays that we get the rest of the year. What to do in the summer? Well, it’s a great time to shul shop. Try going to services at the synagogues near you. Introduce yourself to the rabbi. Go to the oneg after services. See how you like the music, the chanting, the people. Services will be low key and at some point the rabbis will be on vacation. When they are typically lay leaders will step in. Get to know the place.
It was in June, so many years ago, that my daughter picked our synagogue. She was four years old and she picked it because she loved Tot Shabbat. If you have kids, take them to some of the summer services that are outdoors, or mostly musical, or just for kids.
This is a good time to take your non-Jewish sweetheart to synagogue. Services during the summer lean towards a more casual feel. If you feel shy you can always sit in the back and slip out before anyone slides up and greets you or invites you to the after services goodies. Then talk it over between the two of you and see what you each liked most.
Years ago a woman I knew, not Jewish, was feeling very blue. Life was tough, she was young and her relationship was struggling. Because she knew me, she decided to go to services at her local synagogue. Later she called me and told me about it. She said, “I cried a lot. And after services a tiny old woman came up and hugged me. All she said was, it’s hard to be young.”
Why did she go to a synagogue? Why did the old woman speak to her? Why did it help? I don’t know. I just know there is something about community, something about a spiritual moment, something about Shabbat, that can heal.
Give it a try. You may want some succor or you may just want some smiles and music. Go see if it will work for you.
Feeling shy? Want to go with someone else to services? Then you need a Shabbos buddy – that’s a member of the synagogue who meets you at the door, sits with you, explains anything you don’t understand, and introduces you to others at the oneg. Want one? Call me and I’ll get you one.