What Or Hadash Has Meant to Me
September 17, 2007
Updated December 2013
I have just celebrated my one-year anniversary as a member of Or Hadash. I celebrated it by having an aliyah during Shabbat Shuva services.
One year ago, I was searching for my Jewish identity. Some major changes were taking place in my life, and I knew that I needed G-d to help me. I had been born Jewish, had married a Jewish girl, and we raised a Jewish daughter together. I had been a member of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform synagogues during my lifetime. I had gone to an Orthodox Hebrew School and learned things about Judaism, but had not had my Judaism taught in the same way at home. I knew that I enjoyed Jewish music and Jewish customs. I had been to Israel during the summer of my 16th birthday. I had found my yiddishkeit.
But I was confused. I knew that I wanted to establish a stronger connection with my Judaism and my G-d, but I didn’t know where to go to find help to do that.
So, I shopped. I visited two Reformed synagogues and a Conservative synagogue in the area. I went to their Shabbat services and Torah study sessions. I met with the Rabbis. I felt like Goldie Locks tasting porridge.
I had made no decision as to which synagogue to join and the High Holidays were fast approaching. I checked the availability of High Holiday tickets at the two synagogues that were on my short list and found that one sold a ticket at a price I could not afford and the other did not offer a seat to a non-member at any price. That’s when I thought of that strange Reconstructionist synagogue in Fort Washington and I called Or Hadash. It would cost $160.00 for all services through Shavuot, and the money would be applied to my dues if I decided to join. What a deal!
I was moved by the simplicity and warmth of the High Holiday services that I attended. These people were davening together, I thought. So I joined in and it felt good. I began to think that I had found the right porridge. After Yom Kippur, I contacted Rabbi Josh and asked if we could meet. He and I had a nice lunch together and I was able to check off one more item on my requirements list. When I learned about the hour of Torah study each Shabbat morning, another item received a check mark. And when I went to services on Shabbat and found davening every week in a warm and supportive minyan, another item got checked off.
I had found the right porridge; I joined.
Then I decided to get my money’s worth. I attended a Friday night service and a Saturday morning service, and decided to attend the Saturday morning service on a regular basis. I had never studied Torah but I came, had a bite to eat, and sat. I heard people discuss G-d and how G-d wanted us to live life. I kept coming each week and listened. Toward the end of the year, I began to make a few comments myself. I believe that this is what I should have done all my life, but I try not to dwell on my regrets. I know that I have a year of Torah study under my belt now, and a lifetime ahead.
A few months ago, I told my employer that I would not be able to accept any assignments on Saturdays for religious reasons. My boss understood and courteously allowed me to have Saturday’s off. I now know where I need to hang out on Saturday mornings. Shabbat helps a lot.
I have grown in many ways over the past year. I have learned how important it is to join in and give back to a community. As time goes on, I want to continue to learn and grow. Or Hadash will, please G-d, always be there to support my growth.
It is great to hear how Or Hadash has been a part of so many people’s lives over the past 25 years. I want to thank everyone who has helped Or Hadash to become the great place it is today. I look forward to helping our synagogue continue to support the people, the community, and the world we live in for many years to come.
Update: December 2013
I have continued to keep coming back for most Saturday Torah Study and Shabbat services. I have helped out when I could and been helped when I needed it. I know that my journey through the desert is still ongoing, but I also know that Or Hadash will always be an Oasis in my desert. Thank you to everyone at Or Hadash.