Simchat What?

November 24, 2016 22:52

I have just returned home from shul on Simchat Torah.

When I was younger, this day was the pinnacle of the year. As teenagers, we had so much fun dancing around the Torah and ensuring it never returned back to the Ark! We were happy to let the dancing continue, ignoring the more serious people who wanted to get on with the service. We formed a joke choir, danced almost in the streets and dressed up the Chatan Torah & Bereshit in rather amusing costumes.

Now, years later, I look at the number of people in shul and I ask - where are the people doing what I did? How many people cared to dance with the Torah? Sadly, much less than a few years ago. Why is this?

Although it is well-known that attendances on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are generally getting smaller, they still constitute a stronghold of Jewish identity. Yet it is sad that so many only experience Judaism on these three (or two, or one) days (or just for Yizkor). Naturally, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are two of the holiest days of the year and I am not degrading their importance, but surely for people who don't practice religion so much, these aren't the best days to visit shul. They are serious, involve words like 'repentence' and 'sin', which aren't the most exciting areas of Judaism for the 'tourist'.

If we are to re-brand Judaism and show people what it is really about, we need to ensure people come to shul on Simchat Torah, and experience joy, happiness and a sense of fun.

Less and less people are taking responsibility, for shul attendance, dancing around the Torah, and in so many areas of Jewish life.

Even if you are reading this and it hasn't persuaded you to take responsibility for your religion (assuming you aren't already!), consider this: Whereas TV, internet, cars, professional football and so many other modern pastimes have all come into being in the last 100 years, Judaism has been around for 3000 years.

I think it's worth maintaining.

Have a happy year!

November 24, 2016 22:52

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