Friday was Shabbat Services at the Village Temple and with great trepidation this black lesbian set foot into a synagogue for the first time. Technically it was the second time since I’d chatted with the Cantor the week prior but the first time I stepped foot into a synagogue with the intention of going in, sitting down, and willing myself through an entire service composed mostly of Hebrew, a language I haven’t the faintest clue about.
Just the walking in part was really nerve racking and although I’ve finished Being Jewish, Choosing a Jewish Life and am half way through Living a Jewish Life I was not at all prepared. My fears and reservations were subdued by the sweet gentle men who wished me, “Shabbat Shalom” when I walked into the foyer of the Temple. There was lingering outside of the Temple doors before we were escorted in with blue binders that contained all of the prayers for service. It took me a while to get the swing of things, the fact that the binder opened from the back threw me but after the third Psalm I allowed myself to stop trying to read the Hebrew phonetics of the songs or their English translations and just enjoyed the sound of this ancient language around me.
I’d be lying if I said that I was comfortable but I know I wasn’t uncomfortable. I also know that while I have no idea how to speak Hebrew I have a desire to learn. I was comforted by the queer couple behind me, the Latina woman who offered me wine, and the black man with a kippah on his bowed head as his lips moved while reciting Psalms and prayers in Hebrew. My meeting with the Rabbi is next month so I have time to visit a few more synagogues and read more books. So far, though, I’m feeling a little nervous but very confident in my decision.