Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Temple de Rugrats

When Mermaid Girl was converted to Judaism as an infant (she wasn't automatically Jewish because Renaissance Woman is her biological mother and she isn't Jewish) I promised the Rabbi performing the conversion that I would join a synagogue and would give the kid a Jewish education. Nobody's going to come after me and take MG's conversion certificate away if I slack off for a year or two (or even forever, really) but I take it seriously. It makes me more determined to be always belonging to a synagogue than I would otherwise.

So when, for various reasons, I started feeling less connected to the large, mainstream Conservative synagogue we'd belonged to since MG's birth, I went shul-shopping with a vengeance. Last spring I visited three or four different congregations, sometimes with MG and Renaissance Woman, sometimes on my own. I went to information sessions and Purim parties, toured Hebrew schools and talked earnestly with members at kiddush after services.

In the end, we joined a relatively new, fast-growing congregation on the other side of town. It bills itself as "progressive" and is affiliated with the Reform movement. I liked the Rabbi okay, liked that he's gay and politically groovy, RW liked that enough of the service was in English that it could be meaningful to her if she ever comes along with me, and I liked that they've retained enough of the traditional liturgy that the service doesn't feel all watered down, but it's still shorter than the Conservative service that leaves me exhausted and ravenous by the end of the morning. We both liked the abundance of young families and the kids everywhere--RW calls the place "Temple De Rugrats"--and the sense we got of the other congregants: smart, knowledgeable about Judaism but not annoyingly pious, politically aware but not preachy.

But to be honest, what really sold me on the place was the Hebrew-school arrangement: instead of having services on Friday night or Saturday morning and then schlepping the kids out to religious school on Sunday morning, thereby blowing the whole weekend, Temple de Rugrats holds the religious school on SATURDAY MORNING, before services start.

I don't think I can accurately convey how liberating this felt when I heard it. At a Conservative synagogue you can't have any kind of school on Saturday, because of the strictures against writing, etc. on Shabbat. When realized that Temple de Rugrats had this setup, it was like they'd said, I don't know, "Go ahead, come to work barefoot! And you can swear all you want, too!" I wanted to throw my hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore.

Not only that, they require the accompanying parent to either help out at the kids' religious school or to go to a study session with the Rabbi. Then everyone goes to services together and it's all happy and groovy and haimish.

And it's only every other Saturday, because they're new and relatively small and the Rabbi's only part-time. My first thought was "How wimpy, not to have services every week." But it's not like I go every week anyway. Last year, when MG was going to Sunday School at the old shul, I went to Saturday morning services maybe three or four times at most in the whole year. So this way I'll be going twice a month, plus maybe learning stuff.

I actually had something to say about Yom Kippur services; this was all just background. But it's plenty long as it is, and I have to go get groceries before my volunteer gig at Smartypants Yuppie School.

How I love days off from work.

I had yesterday off, too: Power outage. Apparently the receptionist went by yesterday morning to put a sign up and EVERY OTHER BUILDING IN THE AREA had its power back, except our school. It was like a message from God: GO HOME!


Blogger LilySea said...

So tell me that you didn't go so much when she was a baby, because I feel SO guilty every Sunday I miss church.

Here in the friggin' midwest, church starts at 10 am. That means if you're in the choir, you have to get there at 9 am! Impossible, I say, especially now on baby-sleep-deprivation.

Yet, I feel I am cheating on my promise to raise the kid as a "cradle Episcopalian."

She won't remember, right? As long as I get her going regularly by 2 or 3?

6:43 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Shannon-- I don't think we went *at all*--maybe two or three times, max--until she was 16 or 17 months and went down to 1 nap a day. Then we went a fair bit, mostly in the winter, until last year when Sunday school did me in.

And she was still so comfortable there that she would wander around, even out of my sight, in a way she never did anywhere else except home and childcare. She was so attached to the shul that she got really upset when I switched us. She's okay now, though.

Going to services is actually a really nice thing with a toddler (or it was for us): it gave both of us a chance to get out of the house and socialize. And when she was little, she was up that early anyway. Nothing to make yourself crazy over when you have a baby, though.

7:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home