This has been a week filled with wonderful moments. On Friday night a friend of mine had his adult bar mitzvah. My friend is gay and specifically chose Achrai Mot/Kiddushim as his Torah portion so he could speak on those very difficult passages in Leviticus. He was magnificent! But it was not just his chanting and his speech that made the evening feel so filled with joy. I took a moment to reflect on who was in the sanctuary. As part of the service he had the opportunity to invite friends to participate. He had chosen one of the oldest women in the congregation, a tiny woman who walked slowly and proudly up to chant the blessing for the reading of the Torah. He had also chosen my college age daughter who came home for the weekend. His partner sat with their twins, age 2 ½, their big eyes taking in everything. I also noted that there were at least ten Jews by choice in the pews, and a number of non-Jewish members. What an abundance of joy. His partner is the catering business and the oneg…ahhhh, delectable!
The next morning I went to a bat mitzvah. The lovely young girl has a Jewish mom and a Muslim dad. She was anxious and danced about the social hall with nervous energy. Her dad’s family is Indian and he had asked a Sudanese friend to bring his drum so there was percussion during the songs. It was quite wonderful. The cantor had specifically selected Middle Eastern tunes for the service to reflect her family’s background. Her dad, a lovely man, I’ve now known for nine years looked on proudly. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, and I am pretty sure some Hindus in the congregation and everyone seems to be so happy that we were together. The rabbi said, “if only the world could look like us.” I was honored to have been asked to present Maya with her kiddish cup and I told the story of meeting her parents. At the oneg her mom said, you remember what I said to you?! She had told me that a friend and neighbor, a Muslim woman had told her, “Raise her as a Jew or a Muslim, but give her something.” Guess what? The woman was there and I got to meet her!
Do not think for a moment that you won’t find others like “YOU” in a synagogue. There are folks of all backgrounds, orientations, practice levels, colors, ages. You fit right in. Don’t let anyone tell you that the Jewish community isn’t dying to have you – they are. Feeling confused about where to “get in”? Maybe you need a Shabbos buddy, someone who is a member at a synagogue near you. Someone to meet you there, to sit with you and to introduce you around. If that’s what you need, just give me a call. Dawn 510-845-6420 x11