Over the years, as I attended a variety of religious services and events, I began to consider the fact that we could each be at home, in our bathrobes, perhaps, with coffee or pastries in hand, worshipping G-d, reading and pondering the words and works of lofty-thinking writers, philosophers and sages, or just meditating or communing with our own Higher Power. We get up early, however, or stay up late, often traveling significant distances, to join together in prayer or song or silence. Why? Because it’s different when we share the moment, see the Divine in the faces around us and recognize, once again, that we’re not alone. We need each other and we’re all in this together.
In Judaism, we need ten people to recite certain portions of our liturgy and to take out the Torah. A strong message is inherent here, perhaps best stated in the words of the writer and activist Joel Lurie Grishaver: “Do not try to be Jewish alone.” We are told we must comfort the mourner and celebrate with the bride and groom. It’s quite a challenge to celebrate by ourselves and no mourner should be left to grieve alone. Again, we need each other and we’re all in this together.
In a few weeks, our community will be joining together on a Saturday morning to share in a traditional Shabbat morning service replete with Torah readings by our members. Many people are practicing the Hebrew words and Trope, or cantillation, their Torah calls require and others are studying the prayers they will lead. Each of them has busy lives but all of them feel this challenge is worth the time and energy needed to learn their parts in the service. Each of them, and every person who will be in the pews, could be staying at home, reading, studying, praying or simply relaxing with coffee and bagels, but they’ll be arising a bit earlier and traveling to worship as a kahilla, a community. Why? Because we need each other and we’re all in this together.