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Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Different Experience

Last night I attended Conservative services in Tallahassee and gave the talk.

Working with this week's Torah reading of Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38), I spoke about how the mishkan, or desert "Temple," was needed to store the holy items made for God's service. This comes from a midrash, or understanding, that the commentator Rashi brings to the Torah. When Betzalel the builder was told to get to work on the holy objects he points out to Moses that he first needs the mishkan, the desert "Temple," for their storage. First build the container, then the objects to be stored inside. I added that synagogues, schools and cemeteries are the "houses" we use today to store what is most precious. (In Hebrew all three are called "houses of ...").

I was a bit nervous. These were new folks, "Conservative Jews." I did not know how they might respond to a Reform Rabbi. Not an issue. Good, kind and thoughtful Jew with strong Jewish identities and skills, just like everywhere I've been. I gave the sermon/drash, they led the service with skill and quality intention.

However, the Mourner's Kaddish, the memorial prayer, exposed me to something unexpected. My dad died the end of August. I have been saying kaddish since. In Reform synagogues everyone stands in solidarity with the mourner. In Conservative, only the mourners rise in the embrace of the supportive community. I felt different and acknowledged.

Which is better? Both are better and better yet the opportunity for both.
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2 comments:

  1. Bob, I missed the fact that you were on the road. You got out of town without anyone telling me. Thanks to my Tallahassee sister-in-law, "I'm up to speed". I'll try to follow your blog. You're my inspiration. I hope to bike this summer to my daughter's in Holland (150 mi). Last October, I went from Tallahassee to St. Marks, the same route you're on today. Are you on the highway or the biketrail just next to it? If on the trail, is it completed? It was being upgrated last October and I used the highway for about half the distance. Say hi to St. Marks for me.
    Be safe, George

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  2. Your travels are so interesting and it sounds like you're finding some good food along the way. Funny you mentioned about the mourners kaddish the difference where you stopped... my reform temple in Miami way back when always did it that way. I have gotten used to the TBE way over the last 30+ years. Stay safe and have fun! Kathy

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