Janice Hochstat-Greenberg

Reconfirming My Faith

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This Shabbat I will go to services at a local synagogue. [Note of full disclosure: I am not a regular attendee to any Jewish religious institution, partly because of sickness or exhaustion after a long work week, partly because I dreaded the commute.]

This Shabbat, more than ever, I want to recommit myself to more regular synagogue attendance.

This is partially due to the spiritual and emotional renewal and strength that I receive from praying with others; to joining with them in song; to listening to the wise words and teachings of the Rabbi.

It is also in part due to the spiritual sense memory that I have of my late grandfather, a Kohen. He is standing next to me as we chant the Aleinu prayer. He gently but firmly instructs me when to bow and bend my knees  (“va-anachnu korim”) and when to straighten (“lifnei melech”).

This same powerful spiritual sense memory lets me connect with other Jews not only at the synagogue where I am praying, but Jews all over the world, who are celebrating Shabbat and Jews who have celebrated Shabbat in times past.

This Shabbat we will listen to and discuss the Torah reading, Vayigash, which deals with Joseph revealing his true identity to his brothers. He reconfirmed his connection to them, apparently with no hidden agenda or emotional baggage, despite the way his brothers treated him in the past.

This Shabbat, I will reconfirm my own connection to my Jewish faith & spirituality, to the Jewish people.

I will hold in my memory those who have been tragically killed because of their Jewish faith.

I will also give thanks to all of my friends and people in our community and throughout the world of other beliefs who have spoken out and given support and love to our Jewish community especially in these last three horrific weeks.

As I reconfirm my faith and reunite with others in prayer, I will also think of Joseph and the courage and integrity that he demonstrated in dealing with his brothers and challenges in his life.

Shabbat Shalom! Good Shabbos!

About the Author
I am a librarian, folklorist and author living in New Jersey. I was brought up in both Orthodox & Conservative shuls. As a married woman I have been very active in both Conservative & Reform shuls.
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