Last Friday night, t'was I the Rabbi. Well not exactly. What really happened is that I led the Friday night services for our Parisian synagogue Kehilat Gesher
Back in the States, in L.A. where I lived just before moving to Paris, I was a member of a Renewal synagogue. That means bringing spiritual values back into Judaism – values cut out by reformers in W. Europe in the 1800s. More and more Tom is bringing in those values. On Friday night basically all we do is recite and sing. In three languages (Hebrew, French and English) There really is something comforting about ritual that was also cut out of our lives. I'm happy to be bringing it back. And yes there are some rabbis who have a "feeling" for music. Such as "The Rockin' Rabbis", the group in the picture above. Tom, on the right is joined by former rabbinical classmates who were all in a rock band together. They still get together for special occasions. Too cool, right?
So I got roped into leading the services alone because I thought I'd be leading them along with someone else who turned out not to exist. Thank" you know who" that there's a marked prayer book for lay leaders like myself and a congregation who knows the service better than I do! Every week there's a Torah portion to comment on. Thank "you know who" again for internet! I found the portion for the week plus ideas how to interpret it on one of the many Renewal websites. Plus, there was one sentence that really sprang out at me: "He who insults his father or mother shall be put to death" (Ex 21:17). Whoah! But then I thought about it, and it seemed to me that in fact, if you don't respect your parents, something dies within you because you've cut off your connection with your own identity. Yeah – that I could relate to. And it was also interesting to note that the beginning of the portion is totally legalistic and detail oriented while the end is a magical feast with a vision of God appearing above a cobalt blue road. Now that's an interesting combination that reveals a lot about my religion.