Today is November 19, 2019 -
Last November I had the privilege of hearing from the brilliant orator, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He addressed the crowded room on the Pew Report, and how American Jewry has gone astray. Rabbi Sacks then suggested that just as his car’s GPS reroutes him when he makes a wrong turn, so, too, can American Jewry reroute itself to get back on path.
I would like to continue with this metaphor and suggest that just as my GPS provides options for travel preference (shortest route, quickest route, no highways, no tolls, etc.), our Jewish GPS can also guide us with a variety of different options (spiritual, traditional, Zionistic, gastric, social, fun, etc.).
I asked a group of teenagers to list the two most fun holidays to attend synagogue. Everyone in the room had Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on his and her list. “Yom Kippur,” I sarcastically acknowledged, “What part is most fun for you? Is it that you are delirious from hunger? Is it the marathon service or the president’s appeal to stop the leaky roof? What about Yom Kippur is fun?”
Now before I get attacked by our fine rabbis, please understand that I am not in any way diminishing the importance of Yom Kippur. It is our holiest day of the year. I am not suggesting we should skip services, but I am suggesting that if our GPS is set for “fun,” and it sends us to Yom Kippur services, then it is time to invest in a new GPS.
But how should our teenagers have answered? If they only attend synagogue twice a year, like many other American Jews, then they simply do not have the frame of reference to answer any differently. Perhaps they do not even know that selecting “fun” holiday services is an option.
So why do I bring this up today? Because tomorrow night starts, arguably, the most fun holiday on the Jewish calendar, Purim. We dress in costume and we encourage our kids to make loud noises. We eat cookies. We give gifts to each other and to the poor. We listen to a great story. No prior knowledge or experience is required.
Program your Jewish GPS to “fun” tomorrow night. It will direct you and the whole family to one of our many area synagogues or places of worship. You have my guarantee that all of them will be fun. Let’s start creating a generation of kids that when asked for a list of the two most fun holidays, they can answer correctly.
Note: Remind me in about six months, and I’ll tell you about #2 on my list.