There are probably two things that I hear more often than any others from our members when it comes to Jewish ritual. The first is that they find many of the rituals of Judaism beautiful and meaningful, but they don’t participate in them as often as they’d like. The second, which I think is related, is that they wish they felt more confident about participating in Jewish ritual. We have such a long and rich tradition, which is wonderful. That tradition, along with a need to get comfortable with Hebrew, and the fact that many within our community didn’t grow up gaining familiarity with Jewish ritual for a variety of reasons, means that it is sometimes difficult to know where to start.
This March I’d like to invite you to join me in a series of evenings called Navigating Jewish Ritual. As you’ll see below, each session is a stand-alone topic, meaning that you can come to just the sessions that you are most interested in, or sign up for the whole series. These offerings are for anyone — those who are Jewish and those who come from other faith or cultural backgrounds but who want to learn how to participate in Jewish ritual with their families.
Additionally, for those who are Jewish and who can commit to most of the sessions, I invite you to consider putting your newly gained knowledge and skills to use with an adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Unlike the work that our teens do, for this celebration you simply need to set a goal for yourself that gets you a step beyond where you currently are in your knowledge and skill. For some that might mean learning the blessings to recite over the Torah. For some it might mean learning how to study and interpret a Torah portion and write a drash (explication) of the portion to deliver at a service. Some might wish to read or chant from the Torah scroll — just a few verses — for the very first time. You set the goal, and I’ll help you achieve it. We’ve set aside the Friday, May 18 to celebrate your achievements with us.
Adult learning is often a challenge — we often put the priorities of others above ourselves and it is hard to carve out time in our busy lives — but that’s why this course isn’t an “all or nothing.” Come to what you can and take those first steps to make Jewish ritual more accessible and meaningful, gaining the self-confidence to participate in these aspects of Jewish life.
You can sign up on the temple website to help us plan for these sessions.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz