My house-mate, Leah, is fairly new to Calgary. She’s still getting to know the city and does not have a car. She’s also Jewish and one of her goals and journeys in her first few months here has been to find a synagogue to join. Calgary can be a difficult place to negotiate on public transportation and so, when Leah told me she’d found a synagogue that she thought she’d like, I offered to drive her.
I was thinking I’d drop her off, go have a coffee or go for a walk and then pick her up again later. But she said, “Well, why don’t you just come with me?”
Leah is delightfully open-minded and tolerant and I knew that her question was nothing more than an open invitation. No ulterior motives of conversion or the like. So, I accepted.
We went last night. It was the first time in my life I’d been in a synagogue.
I’ve been to services of various faiths here and there throughout my life (weddings, funerals, going to a service with a friend, etc.) and so, I knew I’d feel somewhat out of place… and I was comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, in this situation, if that makes any sense.
As always when thrown into such situations, I watch, try to follow, keep an open heart and mind and be respectful (reining in my sometimes over-zealous curiosity until an appropriate moment later to ask questions.)
It was an interesting experience… I was surprised to see how much closer it was to Christian services than I expected, apart from the Hebrew and the Torah, of course. And I thought the bilingual Hebrew-English prayer book, that worked from back to front was particularly curious… and delightful! (I’m such a lover of languages… and books!)
I think that every now and then, it’s good to step outside your comfort zone, try something new and appreciate the moment for what it is.
Leah was happy with the service and the people she found there, so I think she’s one step closer to creating her own sense of community in Calgary.
And she was gracious enough to answer the long list of questions I had mentally formulated during the service. I learned a lot.
What a unique way to spend a Friday night!