Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Every year about this time, I stare at my synagogue dues sheet and wonder: should I stay or should I go?

On the "stay" side, I love the house bands I perform in: the house klezmer ensemble, Heavy Shtetl, and the house Purim parody band, the Alte Rockers. I love my cantor, who is the sweetest man imaginable, and I love my rabbi, whose position on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace makes me immensely proud.

If I leave, it might give aid and comfort to those at the congregation who oppose his political work, and I don't want that on my conscience.

On the "go"? Well, I'm not exactly drawn to the the weekly services: neither the bar / bat mitzvah oriented service in the main sanctuary nor the weekly minyan downstairs. Aesthetically, they can't compete with the masses at my wife's church, where people actually sing out with gusto and soul. And in order to make it to shul in time for either, I'd have to miss my Saturday Zumba class, where people dance with gusto and soul. Not going to happen, my friend.

(Of course, I could go to shul after I dance, but then I'd get there just in time for the Torah service--and frankly, the older I get, the less patience I have with the celebration and cerebration that surround that particular text. The earlier part of the service speaks to me; the Torah, not so much.)

So, what are my options? Find another shul, or a havurah? I have plenty of options, at least on a map--but realistically, between theology and politics and aesthetics, I don't know of any, and there's the whole "aid and comfort" thing. Go back to being a free-range (i.e., "unaffiliated") Jew? I'd feel awkward playing and singing at the shul after I'd left it, and those bands--and the friends I have in them--mean a lot to me. Join some other faith community? Believe me, I've thought of it. But what would be a better fit? And the other problems crop up here, too.

Cue The Clash. Sigh.