My journey into meaningful prayer began during my older son, Josh’s bar mitzvah preparation, about 12 years ago. We took a series of classes with Rabbi Spratt, and there was something about it that so moved me, that I began coming to Friday night services. At first, it was here and there, but soon, to make sure that I was not booked into late Friday meetings, I started blocking out my work calendar in the late afternoon on Fridays, since coming to services became extremely important to me. In a world where there is so much unpredictability, the service has a familiar flow. The prayers, both spoken and sung, have a great effect on my soul. Sure, the music changes, and there is definitely variation, but I generally know what to expect. The beauty of the service, with our amazing cantors, and our outstanding rabbis, who bring so much intellectualism to the service and prayer, sets us apart. Many years ago, I remember another RSS mom talked to me after services, and said she was looking for Mitchell and the kids, and realized I was on my own, and noted how peaceful I looked. Attending Friday night services brings great balance into my life. To add to that, one of my CRS communities is the Friday night services community. I began to meet many people, and then started to get involved in other things, ultimately becoming an adult b’nai mitzvah last Spring. I recently became Chair of the Ritual Committee, with the ongoing goal of enhancing our prayer experience.
To be frank, there was a time in my life that I felt that I did not believe in G-D. My mother died when I was a kid, and missed half of her life, and really, how do you make sense of that? But over time I came to the realization that I had not left G-D, and G-D had not left me. And with that realization came inner strength and resiliency. When I come to services and pray, I feel a strong linkage to those who came before me and made my life possible, to our community, and am focused not only inward, for myself and my family, but also outward, for our community.
The Aleinu is one of our oldest prayers, and can be traced as far as our earliest prayer books. Ours is a faith defined by hope. We have the capability of moving forward with our lives after personal setbacks, losses and devastation. Each of us can transform any challenging situation or turbulence in our lives into a means of cleansing and renewal so that we can carry on with strength. As Jews, we have an obligation to try to make the world a better place, and are commanded to perform mitzvot. How we behave in this world, towards our fellow human beings and the world we live in, is of great importance. One of the reasons this prayer is especially meaningful to me is that Aleinu is not restorative, looking to revive an ideal past; rather, it is utopian, looking to establish an ideal future. In my own life, I have tried not to focus on losses, but instead to look forward. The Aleinu signifies the Jewish people’s faith and dedication to God. The reason for reciting Aleinu at the end of the service is to engrain in our hearts, before we leave for our homes, the unity of the kingdom of God, to strengthen our faith and strengthen us. It binds us as Jews and conveys the fundamental values and responsibilities of Judaism. Namely, praise for being a unique people with a unique mission, the unique unity of God, and looking forward with the hope for the time when God’s presence will be fully realized, with the uprooting of evil and unity of humanity – a vision of a more perfect world.
Beth Rubin has been a congregant of CRS for many years, and is a mom of two RSS alumni. She has served as a past president of Sisterhood, is on the Board of Trustees, and is the chair of the Ritual Committee.