I went to Shabbat services for the first time in over three years tonight. It was a very strange experience, maybe because it still seemed very familiar. A lot has changed in my life since I stopped going to services, perhaps the most important bit being that I’m not sure I believe in God anymore. But then again, to be Jewish, I’m not sure you have to, really.

Jews are more about community than anything. We said the shehehiyanu for a woman celebrating her birthday, they read the pages-long yahrzeit list, and the rabbi riffed on how he looked young enough to be bar mitzvah but that was really taking place down the hall. We talked about G-d a little, but it was more about “Hey, thanks for coming, we’re glad you’re here. Remember this part…?”

That said, though, it was a very different experience from the first time I attended Jewish services. I cried, then, because it was just so much more spiritual and connected than the Catholic services I grew up with – there’s that community thing again. Tonight I was sitting there wondering if I have enough faith left to bother going to services.

On the other hand, I sat there thinking about how much all of this meant to me at one time. I felt strongly enough about it to convert. I used to lead Hillel in college, and I helped found the young adult group at my synagogue in Boston. I even wanted to make Jewish service my career, whether as a rabbi, or a social worker, or Hillel staff, or something. I didn’t feel any of that tonight, though, so I guess that’s why I was wondering whether I still belong in the Jewish community.

Then the song leader played Mi Shebeirach:

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength,
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,
and let us say, Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit,
And let us say, Amen

It’s a very touchy-feely song, but there’s nothing about G-d in there. Just “the source of strength,” undefined. So maybe I don’t have to believe in G-d to be part of this community. Maybe I can just work off of the notion that the Earth is just here, and there is no “meaning” in life, but sometimes you get together with people because it’s nice to be part of something peaceful and routine. Maybe I’ll go again next week. You know, if I’m not too tired or whatever.

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