Sunday, September 12, 2010

second visit: Sept 10th 2010 Reform Judaism, Rosh Hashanah

9:30 am friday
Rosh Hashanah Services
Hillel JUC of Pittsburgh

4200 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15213
north oakland

I always insist that a call-back is not necessary, but
despite her multitude of responsibilities with the start of the High Holidays, Susie Sheldon of Hillel took the time to do so—offering options of services, making sure I understand locations and leaving me feeling that my visit is genuinely appreciated. Just as the shofar trembles the air (and pervades ones bones overwhelmingly, like you would not imagine), attending a service that falls outside your own upbringing is a humbling endeavor. Or is humility part of the intention always, even when attending ones own? (If one has a familial belief to claim.)

To be humbled by a language not previously understood... Could this be the state that artists sometimes seek in the studio as well?

No matter that I grew up in a suburb where half of my friends were Jewish, my adolescence filled with Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, I had nearly forgotten, and today I rediscover:
How Hebrew unites a room.
How admirable I am of those who studied to learn, my friends spending their weekend mornings with so little mention, my background so very simple in comparison.
How, growing up, I definitely took this for granted.
The beauty of chanting.
How I still remembered the first ten syllables that make up the first two lines of many of the prayers.
The repeated kissing of holy objects, a gesture of reverence. (In my childhood, I never got to kiss in worship. I find this is so beautifully expressive.)

Echoing Rabbi Scott Aaron, Community Scholar at the Agency for Jewish Learning: "Happy Birthday World." Remembrance and reflection. And never to assume in which book names live. Something that carries across many religions, I think: discouragement of brash assumptions. Rabbi Scott Aaron mentions another: "Ah, but all religions make us feel unworthy at times." Another level of humility, I suppose. The certain ease constantly underlying Rabbi Scott's voice allows for comfort, demands shedding of pretense, implies a winking smile. Content never fully eclipses his personality, but is woven naturally. I have never quite experienced this level of humanity during worship. The two hours passed quickly, and I spent the following one writing so as not to forget. Happy New Year.

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