It's Sunday morning and I've watched, from my window, some of my dorm-mates head out to go to church. The Lutherans, the Mormons, the Catholics. There's a certain purpose in their step.
I looked at them for a moment. Then I realized I do it too.
I make that walk once a week usually, on Friday nights. My black kippah is in my pocket, I'm carrying a tray of fresh baking for my compatriots. I'm humming a tune, probably one that we'll sing during the service. I like to think that my shoes are going
I'm generally pretty happy. I like going to services. I like praying, I like my prayer group, I like my Jewish friends. Each step increases the anticipation. Sometimes I worry about not getting the quorum required to recite certain prayers. But mostly, I'm content.
The walk makes me feel at home. Some say that no Jew lives in a city until he's got a synagogue/minyan there that he goes to regularly. I've got that. This is my city, and this is what I do on Fridays. This is my city, and this is my place of worship.The walk, with its regularity and it's homey feel, is part of my experience here in Chicago. In addition, it makes me feel even more Chicagoan - this is a city long defined by its houses of worship, and now I'm part of that proud tradition.
Sometimes I go to Saturday morning services. This is mostly back in New York.
I'm not shomer shabbat. I'll take buses and go out on the Sabbath. I try not to do much schoolwork, and I refuse to take paid work, and I try to make it a "day of rest and reflection." But I'm not "shomer shabbat."
On that note, I won't listen to Jewish liturgical tracks on my computer, or go by vehicle to synagogue on Shabbat. That just feels perverse. My mother, though avoiding her cell phone and computer, drives to synagogue. Admittedly, that's better for her than the long walk. But I usually walk.
When I'm here in Chicago, it's a short, mile-long walk up a street to a small Conservative synagogue. It's a typical Hyde Park walk, but I feel at home when I make it too - maybe not as much as Friday night, but it's still carrying that feeling of this is my city, this is my place of worship.
Back home, it's usually to a synagogue my mom goes to two miles away. The walk there is through a park and leafy neighborhoods. It's really beautiful in the fall - there's a patch of yellow, a patch of red, and a multicolored area around the town's water tower. My feet say both
The anticipation builds even more for Saturday morning services. They're a longer affair, but they're beautiful. There's also always a sermon to look forward to, and the hymns! And then, hopefully, a bar/bat mitzvah to congratulate and beaming grandparents...
I love these walks.