This past weekend I got the opportunity to go to a different synagogue than my own. I walked in, and a young lady was handing out the prayer books. What a wonderful surprise it was when she looked up and said, “Hi Dorice, Shabbat Shalom!” She knew me and I knew her! What a good feeling it is to have someone you know greet you in a place with which you are unfamiliar!
I sat together with my two twin students and their dad, and after singing with the congregation ma tovu, “How good it is for us to be together,” the rabbi asked us to say Shabbat Shalom to somebody in the row in front of us, behind us or to the side. Since there was nobody in the row directly before us, I looked to the side and, lo and behold, there was another familiar face that I recognized from the community at large.
It got me thinking what a small world we are indeed, that even if we go to a space that sometimes is new for us, we find familiar faces. It should come as no surprise since we often say that that the Jewish people are one big mishpoocha, one big family!
I remember when Bob and I went to Israel and on the way we made a stop in Denmark to break up the long flight. In the evening we went to a synagogue. I still remember the red carpet and velvety blue chairs. We did not know what kind of synagogue it was, but when we arrived, I was escorted to the women’s section while Bob went with the men. Within a few seconds, as the prayers were sung, the familiar tunes overcame our feeling of being strangers and people seemed familiar. Even though it was a new place, I felt belonging, just as the people around me this past Shabbat. We are lucky that as Jews, we have a community wherever we go. When God created humans he said לא טוב היות האדם לבדו, “It is not good for a person to be alone (Bereshit 2:18). Community is such a necessity in the life of a Jew. Judaism does not advocate living like monks, in isolation. Judaism advocates being together, finding a partner, belonging to a community!
“Hine ma tov umanayim shevet Achim gam yachad.”
How good it is to sit together- no wonder that is one of the few songs with which every Jew is familiar.
So this week, perhaps even today, reach out and call someone. Invite someone to coffee, or maybe even to Shabbat dinner.
Being together will surely outweigh the benefit of solitude!
I am looking forward to teaching my eight-week class elucidating the concepts about my upcoming book, Moments of the Heart—what a pleasure it is for me to explore the concepts of the book with others, at Congregation Neveh Shalom starting on January 8th. It will be super-nourishing for your soul!
With all my heart,