(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal and Credit Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
(Credit Videos: Andy Blumenthal)
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue.”
We all go to synagogues that we like in some ways and don’t like in others, but have you ever thought about what your fantasy synagogue would be like if you could make one?Last Shabbat, we were invited for lunch by some wonderful friends who had been sports writers, and the topic of fantasy football came up, where people compete for coming up with the best team by picking their own players and forming their ideal team. I said, half jokingly, wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with synagogues and pick the best aspects of each and make an ideal house of worship for ourselves where we could pray, learn, grow, and experience holiness and community.
In the article, I detail “the best of the best” when it comes to synagogues and the ultimate ideal synagogue is of course, in the coming of the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
We went to Havdalah with the Traveling Chassidim at Aish HaTorah in Rockville.
It was so wonderful and spiritually uplifting.
At around mark 11:00, I get to wear the shtreimel hat and I get to drop the shtreimel hat (that was funny)!
These Chassidim from Monsey and Brooklyn were so wonderful.
They leave their communities and homes to come out for Shabbat to other Jewish communities around the country and do beautiful outreach.
So giving, loving, and caring with their whole families.
The music, song, and joy they bring are beyond words.
The Traveling Chassidim are wonderful and they make a terrific Havdalah at the end of the Shabbat. 😉
(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
While some may find it challenging not to lose the essence of the old, when keeping it fresh, I think the past becomes more meaningful when we can truly integrate it into our daily lives.
I personally am still not comfortable with the idea of online Passover Seders or DIY Haggadah’s–and I don’t think I ever really will be–probably more because of guilt at not following strictly and the concern that people may change things so much as to either misinterpret or actually distort the truth of G-d.
However, I do think that we can strengthen regular people’s connection to their past and their faith only by truly bringing it in our present and looking to the future, as well.
The world of religion-can often be filled with controversy between those that maintain iron-clad religious practices from thousands of years ago and those that seek evolving routes to religion and G-d today.
When we can use technology to help people bridge the religious divide, we are helping people connect with their G-d and choose good over evil in their daily lives.
Neither modernism nor technology is inherently “bad,” and we do not have to run away from it–or escape through the Red Sea from it.
Rather, faith in the Almighty, in His hand that guides all, and in the doing good in all that we do, are fundamental to religion and can be shared online and off, as G-d is truly everywhere and in each of us.
Sometimes, I wonder when Orthodox people probe and judge with incessant questions of “What Shul do you go to?” “What Yeshiva do your kids attend?” “Do you keep Kosher?” and more, I imagine G-d looking down on his “people of the book,” not with satisfaction that they follow his commandments, but with disdain for how people can hurt others and not even realize that is notreligious.
While I agree that unguided, people and practices can go astray, I also believe that automatic suspicion and rejection of new things is impractical and actually harmful.
Modernism and technology can be a blessing, if coupled with faith and integrity.
Congratulations to Aish.com for the good work they are doing in helping people integrate the old and new in a balanced way.