Above: Our Crossing Paths middle schoolers with parents and some of the kids and parents from the shared Shabbat Service and Dinner at Beth Jacob synagogue.
Last Friday evening was magical--our very first "faith field trip" as part of the yearlong Crossing Paths program. 12 middle schoolers and 9 of us adults/parents trekked the snowy sidewalks to visit, appreciate and learn from our neighbors at Beth Jacob Synagogue. (One family we knew from when they participated in OWL last year!) The youth spent two full workshop sessions learning about Judaism as preparation and we were being welcomed to join in a Friday Shabbat (Hebrew for 'sabbath') Service and Potluck Dinner. Serendipitously, it was a special service, led by the kids and youth and adults of their Hebrew School.
Our UCM youth were so respectful. You all would have been SOOOO proud of them. They were friendly, curious, open minded, willing to engage and listen--really all of the Eight Practices of Welcoming that we've been talking about with them from the start of Crossing Paths in September. I think I speak on behalf of all the adults present that we are so proud of them.
On the walk home in the snow we reflected on many things, including the following thoughts of the kids and parents--I've not captured them all but here are some:
- how warm and comfortable the space was
- how delicious the fresh challah bread was
- how beautiful and ancient Hebrew sounds and looks, and how neat it is to know that Jews around the world have been saying these prayers and words for thousands of years
- that each Torah is handwritten and part of a long scroll
- that Jews all over the world follow the calendar readings of the Torah and for the bar/bat mitzvah they read their week
- that the Torah is all set to tones/music
- there's a strong element of justice seeking to Judaism as well as Unitarian Universalism
- kids as both congregations like being part of such a friendly community
- that kids do a lot of work for their bar/bat mitzvah
- that each religion has it's metaphors, and it was a good fit for Kara (who helped lead the service) because the metaphors really worked
- it's neat to start the weekend with a big family/community sacred and celebratory gathering
- how beautiful the Ugandan prayer song was, and how we don't think of Jews in Uganda when we imagine Jews, but they are really in every country of the world!
- the visit and the entire unit has been powerful for some people who have Jewish ancestry but haven't dug into that much
Thank you so very much to all who made the visit possible--from parents and youth helping with food prep for the potluck, accompanying us, and just fitting drop-off and pick-up into your evening despite the weather! And of course deep, deep gratitude to our warm hosts at Beth Jacob. We felt so welcomed! And thanks so much to our facilitator team: Cara Robechek, Jeremy Beaudry, Julie Bond, and Nancy Schulz! This Sunday the group begins their study of Christianity, and January will be Islam.
Above: Settling in for the service in their worship space--also called a sanctuary, just like ours! We were told it is considered respectful for both Jews and non-Jews to wear a kippah (Hebrew = cap) or yarmulke (Yiddish). As you enter their synagogue there is a large bowl that people can choose from if they'd like to try out wearing a kippah. Traditionally, only males wear kippahs; however, they say "we're egalitarian and anyone who wants is welcome to wear one." However, it's not required. Many of our youth and adults chose to wear a kippah.