Friday, July 23, 2010

My own seat

Shabbat arrives at sundown.  Where to attend shul should not be an intellectual question to be sorted out but for me there has been a menu created.  As an ovel, I try to be in place for Kaddish.  My home congregation sometimes gets a little shvok on assembling ten men for Kabbalat shabbat.  Guaranteeing ten men and assembling at a convenient time induced me to show up at the reform congregation several months ago.  Without belittling the importance of halacha, I find a level of kedusha there which does not exist in my home congregation.  I like the musical skills of their Hazzan and the insight, intellect and fundamental kindness which their Rabbi conveys each time he speaks from the bimah or wanders through the congregation with a portable microphone clipped to his robe.  After a few visits, I started sitting in the same place each time, or within four amot if my seat already had another tush in place.

Having  my own seat makes me part of the community.  The rabbi knows where to look for me even if he knows nothing about me, not even my name.  I have a perspective of the bimah and what goes on their within my line of sight.

At my home congregation I sit in the same seat when I attend with my wife.  When I attend alone, I sit someplace else and vary the location, even sometimes opting for the reserved men's section which my wife abhors but we both understand intellectually as necessary for acceptability of some of the worshippers.  There are different perspectives of the proceedings, some visual some auditory and tactile, as the people nearby who chat with you and shake your hand change from week to week.  I am also less a participant and more of an observer or transient when I lack my own fixed anticipated location in the sanctuary.

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