Why fixed prayers? To learn what we should value, what we should pray for. To be at one with our people, the household of Israel. To ensure that the ideals painfully learned and purified, and for which many have lived and died, shall not perish from the community and shall have a saving influence upon the individual.
Rabbi Chaim Stern
Periodically I get asked: “Why come to services when I can pray/meditate/think better when I’m alone in nature?” It is a serious question that deserves a serious answer.
As much as Judaism is about ethics, learning, prayer, and God (however you do or do not believe), Judaism is about community. Each week as I look around the chapel or sanctuary, while some are there to find a spiritual, prayerful space, everyone is there to be a part of our Congregation Albert and/or a Jewish community. That sense of being part of a living, growing community is often missing from our lives. We may have 1000 Facebook friends or followers of our Twitter feed, but to be fully human we need to be in the presence of others to truly feel community.
I am an introvert by nature. At an oneg or a party my preference is to be with 1 or 2 people and avoid the crowd. At a service my preference is to sit alone or with Michele to pray. Yet, I still feel that sense of being part of a community that is larger than me and it brings me comfort and strength. As I look around the congregation at each service I see people like me who may only talk to 1 or 2 people or no one.
Then there are the extroverts who revel in being an active part of the community, talking to everyone, needing a sense of closeness to others. Communal prayer and the oneg/Kiddush afterward provides that for them. It grows their spirituality and sense of safety and comfort. As I look around the congregation at each service I see these people too.
How do you meet your need to be a part of a community? Each person at services is fulfilling her/his need to be part of a community in her/his own way. Come join us and see.