The beauty of the Jewish people is in our diversity

As Yom Kippur comes to a close, I was thinking about a piece I wrote for Temple Jeremiah in September 2014. The subject of my essay has remained my “tradition” for the last four years — spending Yom Kippur at Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues.

The beauty of the Jewish people is in our diversity
Sept. 12, 2014
Originally written for Temple Jeremiah

I’ve always been a bit of a synagogue hopper.

Right now, when asked where I go to synagogue, I say, “I go to five.” I love my community here at Temple Jeremiah, and meeting all of you has been one of the best parts of my job; I enjoy attending synagogue with my family where I grew up, at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette; I attend two synagogues in Lakeview, the neighborhood where I live; and I co-lead a monthly Friday night minyan in the city.

I love Jewish communities. I love the diversity of customs, melodies, faces, teachings, architecture, and emotions.

So it’s no surprise that on Yom Kippur last year, I found myself in three different synagogues in one day. I spent the morning humming the melodies of the High Holy Days, while greeting congregants and meeting new faces here at Temple Jeremiah; in the afternoon I sat with my mom, listening to my dad, brother, and sister-in-law sing in the choir at BHCBE; and I spent the evening Neilah service with my friends at Anshe Sholom Bnai Israel, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Lakeview.

That day, I experienced a cross section of our larger Jewish community, splitting my time between Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues. During Neilah at Anshe Sholom, I found myself not paying so much attention to the words on the page, but reflecting on Jewish peopolehood. The Jewish community – our kehillah – is made up of so many different kinds of wonderful, dedicated, intelligent, interesting, and friendly people.

Our beauty is in our diversity.

We Jews are a tiny percentage of the world’s population. I pray that we can come together as a larger Jewish community to be enriched by the uniqueness of our brothers and sisters.

On that Saturday afternoon in September 2013, driving back and forth between Northfield, Wilmette, and Lakeview, I had the chance to truly feel the richness of our people; and to me, it was like seeing the face of God.


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