Family Radio CHRI


Reality Check 2, Boutique Jew or Practicing Jew?


It's 7:06AM, I'm at a stop sign waiting for the light to change. The piezo igniter in my brain finally lights whatever gas is in there and I get the green light to drive off. I am going to a special twice a month Thursday morning service held at the un-Godly (for me) hour of 7:30AM.

The entrance to Temple Israel's parking lot is one of the scariest I've ever seen. Turning left from Heron, it's an easily missed left turn from the middle of a left-hand curve on the wide, busy and fast-trafficked Prince of Wales. No wonder so many park at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church next door.

We are 13 for a service that is mainly prayers. Larry is officiating, leading the singing and prayers. Jews don't kneel. When at times we acknowledge Adonai, we stand, do a half-way knee-bend and bow forward. The bow is held long enough to be a demonstrative show of respect. It is, after all, to Adonai. 
Somewhere during the service, a discussion ensued as to whether the Torah should be taken out of the Ark, given our small congregation. Consensus was arrived at, yes, we should. With the Torah unfurled and ready for reading on a table, we are all invited to gather round. This is my first opportunity to see the Torah up close.
This particular Torah looked hand-written, with each page glued, stitched and taped to the next. The size of each page struck me. Think of the side of a sheep, figure out how large a single unblemished rectangular piece you could get, and that is the size of a page. From sheep we obtain parchment paper, the same as has been produced for thousands of years. 

Scholarly research identifies the actual act of writing down all the Books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as during the Babylonian exile, about 600 BCE. I am looking at, and hearing spoken in Hebrew, living history. This is a scroll true, not only to God's unchanging words, but to the physicality of ancient Israelites' work done to preserve their Covenant in exile.

The Torah put away in the Ark, we each read prayers from the Shabbat Prayer Book. I am treated like the others and read aloud too; I no longer feel like an outsider. I've read from the pulpit a number of times at my church, interesting parishioners only read the Old Testament to the congregation. 
Suddenly near the end, Larry asks me aloud if I will be joining in for the evening Shabbat service the next day. I'm unprepared, thinking just how much of a commitment will I give to my spiritual life as a Jew? Will I just show up for the occasional service to get a feel for it or commit fully? 'Yes', I say, loud enough for all to hear.

The next morning I open the fridge and staring me in the face are Produce Depot made in-store fine herbs sausages. Except they're pork. I sigh, throw them in the freezer and make a mental note to phone Dave Barstead, the owner, to explain. Being a member of the Chosen People is not easy.

Next: Blog 5, Where have I seen this before?

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