Shul is to be endured

This is going to be one of those posts that has the potential to go right over the head of many of the readers, but I suspect that there will be a sizeable number who can appreciate it regardless of their religious affiliation.

Within Judaism there are a number of different denominations and there is a mixture of rivalry and brotherhood between them. Dependent upon where you fall you may look at members of other denominations as being heathens or fanatics, at least that always seems to be the course of discussion.

I happen to be one of those people who is kind of stuck in the middle. I have friends who are as reform as you can be and others who are the frumiest of the frum. Ok, maybe not that frum, but they certainly are not limited to BTs, I can count a number of FFBs among them. On top of that in my neighborhood it is almost a requirement to have smicha. Which is actually pretty nice because I can do as much or as little learning as I want to.

It can feel a little bit like being a swing voter, everyone wants me to agree with them, or so it sometimes feels.

One of the conversations that I have with my more observant friends, those who might call themselves Torah True is that there are many members of the conservative and even reform groups who could become more observant and potentially find themselves on the derech. But I am always bothered a little by comments like the one I just made. If you are not at least MO some of these people think that it is appropriate to refer to you as trying to hit the derech, as if you couldn’t possibly be on it already. It is snobbery and it is a problem.

It is horrible kiruv and certainly not inviting.

As it always does the conversation turns into specifics about what to do to improve things. I always have a standard answer which is, you have to change their attitudes so that they no longer view davening and attending shul as something that has to be endured.

If you can do that you can and will find that more people are interested in learning more and incorporating more components of Judaism into their lives.

It is really a sad statement. “Shul is something that has to be endured.” I am guilty of thinking and saying it too. Until we find more ways to change this mentality we will find less interest from fellow MOTs and it will continue to be a challenge to bring in more BTs.

Just some more of my random thoughts.

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1 Comment

  1. TRW December 29, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I see it from the women’s section, so it’s more removed (sorta), but watching the davening on Shabbos morning is so beautiful to me:
    All these men wrapped in talesim, together following an ancient ritual that has been followed for thousands of years (at least since the destruction of the Second Temple, when prayer in shuls was officially institutionalized).
    Or when they reverently take out the Sifrei Torah, the most important physical object of the Jewish religion, beautiful scrolls that take months to write, decked in velvet, silver and gold, and bring them to the bimah, specially set up just for the reading of G-d’s Word…
    I like it. 🙂 For me, there’s something absolutely wonderful about going to shul.
    [Not to mention what prayer actually is-the ability to have a direct conversation with G-d!!]

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