Synagogue services, or: Staying home

An American sentence:

Synagogue services make me out a liar, as does staying home.

What’s an ‘American Sentence’?

Allen Ginsberg, inventor of the American Sentence, felt that the haiku didn’t work as well in English. Ginsberg decided to remove the line structure of the haiku, maintaining the requirement of 17 syllables total. He felt that removing the line count freed the American Sentence up for the idiosyncrasies of English phonemes.

The requirements:

  1. Composed in one line;
  2. Syllabic, 17 syllables;
  3. Condensed, written with no unnecessary words or articles;
  4. Complete sentence or sentences;
  5. Includes a turn or enlightenment.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

21 thoughts on “Synagogue services, or: Staying home”

  1. Na’ase v’Nishma, David. One does not have to go to shul, but it makes a difference regardless of belief, even if it is to honor the memory of those who didn’t have a shul to attend, those who were persecuted for wanting to pray with a minyan, and ultimately, those who were herded into synagogues and burned.
    Air hugs,

    1. 💗 Dolly 💗 ~ Na’ase v’Nishma is based upon one of at least two conflicting midrashim, as I am sure you know… There’s also the midrash about Hashem holding the mountain over the people’s heads and threatening them, lest they refused to adopt Torah law. Na’ase v’Nishma is a selective phrase from our tradition that kiruv professionals have adopted because it suits their agenda. I don’t buy into it so readily.

      Also, even from a halakhic perspective, there’s no requirement upon the individual to attend services at shul. The mitzvah for forming a minyan is upon the entire community, not the individual. Only the mitzvah of prayer is upon the individual himself.

      As for the rest of what you’ve written, I agree with all of that, and that is, in part, why it’s difficult for me not to attend.

      Much love,

      1. David, I’d had a problem with that mountain held over heads for years, until I was able to internalize the concept ‘choose life.’ Of course, nobody is obligated to attend services, and one could certainly pray at home. For women, there isn’t even an obligation to pray, even though there is a tradition among some to do Mincha. However, I have chosen to do all three, and a Hallel when it is required, for my own personal reasons. Far it be from me to do it in order to emulate men; I have better things to do than to engage in silly feminism. Yet when I had to pray at home on Shabbat and Yom Tov because of Covid (and when shuls reopened, I still couldn’t attend for health reasons), I felt deprived of life. When the Rabbi called me to inquire about my health, and I informed him that I intended to resume attending, he said something about socializing. I had to explain that I’ve never stopped socializing, albeit by Zoom and WhatsApp, but shul for me is not a place to socialize, but a place TO PRAY WITH OTHER JEWS. It reaffirms that we have survived and will survive.

  2. Even skeptics have been known to be surprised when they least expect it.:):)..Sometimes going through the motions can, at least, take one out of the world, out of the routine for an hour…easier for surprises to find you..if you are less busy and less convinced you know what’s coming next…:) Just my humble opinion from one who has lived on the other side of the Dead Sea:):) ❣️David❣️

    1. 💙 Veera 💙 ~ well, I don’t believe there’s a supernatural power who is heeding our payers. So going through the motions of reading from the prayer book is insincere for me.

      1. Ah that’s always there…even I don’t believe that there’s a certain person known as God heeding my prayers,so even I don’t like singing devotional songs in praise of a deity I don’t believe in… 😦

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