As part of our Friday evening services, we sing Lecha Dodi to welcome in the Shabbat bride.
At our pre-Pesach community Shabbat program, I took a few minutes to walk around the JCC to check in on our various Kabalat Shabbat services. At the moment that I stopped by, I heard Lecha Dodi from the Reform service. I rounded the corner and heard Lecha Dodi from the Conservative service, and then I finished my tour joining the Orthodox group in singing Lecha Dodi.
We split up that Friday night by denomination, despite all singing Lecha Dodi, because of how we sing. One service had a guitar and one service had a mechitza (dividing men and women). Two services used a microphone and livestreaming. One service abridged the song. Our differences are real and shouldn’t be minimized, but neither should they overshadow our commonalities nor prevent us from unifying.
The beauty of the model we used that Friday night, copied from the larger Hillels across the country, is that 45 minutes after concurrently yet separately singing Lecha Dodi, 400 of us joined together to eat Shabbat dinner.
At a recent conference, I learned that diversity of political views and denominational hostilities are the two biggest drains on Jewish communities. I think that we have shown that denominational pluralism is one of our community’s strengths.