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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