Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Experiments in Religion

This past Shabbat, as we were walking home from the park, we passed by several of Raphaela's friends from Gan (and their families), returning from synagogue.  Raphaela asked me if synagogue was "fun," and I replied that I supposed if we went to the one down the street from our house, she might bump into a few of her friends there, and that it might then become fun, at least for her.

Raphaela immediately perked up and begged that we make the effort to go to that synagogue this coming Saturday, so she could play with her friends.

How can I deny the request? I can't, and it leaves me feeling terribly conflicted.

This particular synagogue and community center has never shown any particular kindness to me, both when I was single and when I became a single mother.  Quite the contrary, almost every time I have walked in there I have been told that "people are talking" and that they don't know quite what to do with me.  The women's section - though air conditioned, a plus - is small and only accessible after about 60 steps, with an occluded view of the spacious and beautiful men's section.  This is a traditional Orthodox minyan*, meaning that women can show up and hum along to the tune, but count for nothing and participate in nothing; other than a minority group of families with young children, most of the members boast an average age of 70 and abhor change.

Not the place for me.  I have already admitted out loud that if we lived in other areas of Jerusalem, the reception would be warmer and more accepting, but we are not moving house in the near future.

So I guess I must suck it up, get us both dolled up and appropriately attired, acceptable for this group of worshipers.  I get consolation from the fact that Raphaela and her friends are only five years old, and they don't judge.

* minyan = the Hebrew term for a group of ten men who then constitute the Orthodox prayer party

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