As Rosh Hashanah came to New York City last Sunday night, thousands of Jews turned to their family tables in order to usher in the New Year, celebrating with food, company, and prayers. Monday was of course the day that people virtually live in shul, normally causing groans… and then there’s always that person in the back that somehow mysteriously manages to fall asleep – unnoticed – after only being in shul for three minutes.
Rabbi Dan Ain, founder of Because Jewish, wanted to offer a different type of experience. Instead of a rote recitation of prayer, he wants to offer a spiritual connection to Judaism through music. He wants people to feel as if they are attending a concert, something that causes a cycle of new emotions and feelings every time an individual engages with the music, the meditation, or the rituals he offers. Rabbi Ain has compared traditional Jewish prayer to a reproduction of a Civil War battle: it may have meaning for few, but has lost the sparkle for many.
Rabbi Ain’s synagogue is formed on a basis of inclusion, where all are welcome. Whether an individual is born in a Modern Orthodox Household, or whether they simply came across Judaism through a friend or a book… the doors of Because Jewish (wherever they may be on a particular Shabbas!) are always open! The community self-describes itself as coming from a “mixture of orthodox households, evangelical households, and hippie neo-Buddhist households.” Due to their diverse backgrounds, the community hopes to be on a constant journey towards discovering heightened spiritual experiences. Much of Rabbi Dan’s intended outreach are people who have come across Judaism because of a spouse, or perhaps were born to Jewish parents but weren’t raised within the religion. His goal is to create a space where everyone can find something meaningful, and where every attendee can relate somehow to one of his modes of refreshing a three thousand year old faith.
Last Tuesday, October 4, Brooklyn Bowl hosted their Rosh Hashanah Services, which included the music of Jeremiah Lockwood, and meditation led by Miriam Eisenberger. The venue was completely sold out, and it was an amazing spiritual experience. There was shofar blowing, and a procession with the Torah. Kol Nidre for Erev Yom Kippur will take place at 7 pm on Tuesday October 11th at the Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn. Services for Yom Kippur will take place the next day at 10 am at the Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn. Full description and tickets are available here.