On Friday night a group of high school students from Cincinnati visiting NYC attended Shabbat services at the Village Temple. Throughout the month of November, Rabbi Hirsch has been explaining “minhag,” customs that develop in individual congregations, focusing on our practices at the Village Temple. So she asked the visitors how our services were different than theirs. Someone mentioned the music. They don’t have a cantor in their synagogue, while we are led by Cantor Nancy Bach. Someone mentioned that they don’t turn toward the entrance and greet the Sabbath bride during the singing of L’ha dodi, as we do. A couple of the kids raised their hands and said, giggling, “At our synagogue we don’t dance during services!”
The kids from Cincinnati nailed it. Music and the occasional dance lie are at the heart of Friday night services at The Village Temple. For this community, Shabbat is a time to unwind and reflect, to take stock in the company of friendly souls. But it is also a time to celebrate our tradition. It’s okay to giggle a little—even necessary, especially in this moment of history when angst and anger are overwhelming public discourse. Inside the sanctuary, we can step outside ourselves and the troubles outside, to learn how our ancestors survived harsh times and to connect with the values that bring us together.
Wishing all of you a peaceful Thanksgiving. There will be services at the Village Temple Friday night, a nice way to digest.