David Ben Horin
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I met God for the first time in a Conservative temple

Man and the Universe. A person is standing on the top of the hill next to the Milky Way galaxy with his hands raised to the air.
This picture was legally purchased for content from 123rf.com by David Ben Horin

After talking about social distancing, masks, and now vaccines, nothing seems to be working. We are all still trapped in our rooms waiting for the all clear.

After a year, we still haven’t talked about G-d. We haven’t discussed the real issues:

  • That we are all created beings
  • That it is our Creator Who gives us free will to choose what we want to do in the world He created
  • That there are consequences, both good and bad, for every choice we make

This doesn’t make G-d a solely owned asset of the, how do you call it, ultra-Orthodox.

G-d is everywhere. He wants everyone to be a part of His world.

Let me tell you a secret: G-d isn’t a republican.

Let me tell you another secret: You don’t have to be inside a Shul, Yeshiva, or Settlement to speak to Him

It’s so easy to forget the basics when besieged by a constant barrage of hate filled social media posts forcing us to the extremes of just about anything.

Pecan Pie and Prayers

The first time I truly felt G-d was in Rockville, Maryland.

It was my sophomore year at university. Feeling this emptiness growing inside me, I decided to start going to Friday night services.

I grew up secular. What did I know about any of it?

There was a Shul right off the red line subway from my school. It was out of the way so I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone what I was doing. There was also 1950s style Silver Dollar Diner next door.

The plan was to get my studies done early, hop on the 4PM northbound, have dinner, and walk to the temple.

I had a tuna melt and pecan pie, and then took the 10-minute stroll to services.

It was pretty intimidating. Everything was in a foreign language. I didn’t know where to stand, when to sit, or what was going on. The Cantor glanced at me and had pity. He threw a warm smile that calmed me down. I began to feel comfortable.

I kept going.

After a month, I knew when to sit and stand. Even the order of the prayers I could anticipate. It became the highlight of my week. Pecan Pie and Prayers. On the subway, I started learning about our history by reading Leon Uris’ The Source.

Then It Happened

This wasn’t your routine repentance.

That didn’t matter to God.

My favorite prayer was Lecha Dodi, the song to greet the Shabbat Bride. I lived for it. Every week I would try my best to keep up with what looked like high speed supplication. But when it came to Lecha Dodi, I hit my notes on cue.

Came the second to last week of the semester.

There was something special in the air, I could feel it. We started to sing Lecha Dodi.

I was on fire. I sung with all my energy.

It happened.

Something inside me, like nothing I had ever felt before, started to connect with everything outside and all around me. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it. I could only feel it when all my energy was devoted to passionate prayer.

It didn’t matter that I was carrying money on Shabbat. It didn’t matter that half an hour later I would be on a subway home. It didn’t even matter that at the time I was volunteering for Bill Clinton’s government.

I wanted God.

Even though I didn’t know what to do, or how to do it right. Even though my life was one episode after another of doing things He doesn’t approve of, all that He required was that I wanted Him.

He connected with me in Rockville, Maryland in a Conservative Temple.

Remembering What’s Important

The entire world is covered in plague. Tens of millions of families lack the means to provide for themselves. People are sick and dying. Cities all over the world are in chaos an anarchy.

People aren’t safe on the streets anymore.

Even if you aren’t ready to pray, try praying for someone else.

All of us, religious and secular, liberal and conservative, are passionate about making life better for everyone.

This is one way we can do it. We don’t have to betray the things believe in. We can pray for the sick, the poor, the desperate.

We can pray for ourselves.

We don’t have to pray to “see the light,” as we are “ignorant” of this illusive “truth” the “they” are all to happy to show we have been blind to.

Let’s pray for each other. Let’s ask our Creator to feed our friends.

For no other reason that there is suffering in the world and the people suffering most don’t care who is in the White House.

COVID-19 keeps getting worse. Nothing man or woman has done since this nightmare began has made a dent in its destruction. Let’s, together, start asking G-d for help.

Anybody can decide to recite the Shema today and ask the King of the world for mercy.

We can heal the world with prayer, learning, and kind deeds.

For those of you who didn’t want President Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz or Yair Lapid to redeem humanity, I have good news for you:

You can do it without them.

About the Author
David Ben Horin is a marketing manager for a high-tech company based in Hadera. He is the developer and writer for Highway 60.
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