At a recent adult ed class, we talked about the evolution of prayer following the destruction of the Second Temple.
With no more Temple, we (Jews) needed an alternative to sacrifice.
This set in motion a centuries-long evolution in prayer — an evolution that is still going on. If you compare prayer books published even over the last several decades, you’ll see that, in some cases, the path moved from traditional to less traditional and back, again, toward traditional.
Can you please everybody?
No surprise, then, that the subject came up of “what do congregants want?”
More Hebrew, less Hebrew? Gender-neutral or traditional language? Age-old melodies or newer tunes? The answers, of course, are a resounding “yes!” and “no!”
Scott Sperling, our wonderful Rabbi, talked about his personal goal of blending the old with the new, (a) so that we feel at home in synagogue, with some prayers weaving us back in time through their comforting echoes of what we’ve “always done” and (b) so that we learn new rhythms, new ways of expressing ourselves through prayer.
Making creative choices in our homes
His goal, I think, is a perfect inspiration for us, too, when we think about celebrating Jewish holidays with our families.
It is spiritually powerful for us to pull in generations-old traditions that we remember from our parents and grandparents, while adding and changing to honor the family now sitting around our tables.
Here are two ideas we wove into our family celebrations that you might like:
1. Adding a Miriam’s Cup to our Passover Seder
2. Creating a Hanukkah centerpiece that everyone (everyone over 4, that is) can help himself to – grab a dreidel and take a spin, nosh on a some gelt, choose candles to set up a menorah for the next night.
What would you like to spice up?
Are there Jewish holidays that you’d like to enhance that would make celebrations more exciting, inspiring, joyful for your family?
Or have you discovered traditions that are meaningful to you? That make great memories? That help you laugh?