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Reform Judaism/getting more involved with synagogue

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Question
Hi Rabbi Levy,  I am a member of a reform shul but in name only as I hardly ever go - I am in my mid 40s and single and have an active life both professionally and socially but it is virtually all outside of the Jewish community. I am now so unobservant that it has been years since I fasted on Yom Kippur!

It has got to the point where I am put off going because I am embarrassed to show up and almost feel like the synagogue is a strange place to me. But I miss the community. And I do genuinely believe in some sort of divine presence in the universe and I now recognise the enormous value in being able to belong to a community like ours - I think such a community is missing from many people's lives nowadays.

I'd like to seek your advice on how I can reattach myself to my local community. I feel I want to do this gradually but surely as I know it will reconnect me to my heritage and faith, and just something bigger than myself - I just need help as far as where to begin.

Many thanks Rabbi Levy for your help.

B'shalom

Dave

Answer
Dear Dave,

The best way I can think of to become more involved in your congregation is for you to make friends there who will make you feel more at home. I suggest that you participate in activities where people actually sit and talk/listen to each other. So, think about attending some classes, Men's Club meetings, or committee meetings where people interact. And, once you are attending those things, volunteer to do something. Join a committee or help to plan an activity with other people.

You won't get the same sense of connectednss by attending Shabbat services, even though they are an important part of "being there." Once you do the first part, you will begin to feel more at home at services because you will know a few people there.

There is a book I can suggest that might make Shabbat more meaningful for you. It is called "Shabbat," and it is by Abraham Joshua Heschel, a noted Jewish philosopher of the past centure. It is a short book, and it may show you some themes to pay attention to during the Shabbat service, as well as some ways to change your own life on Shabbat.

It isn't important to try to "do it all," or meet someone else's standard of what I "good Jew" is. It is important to find something that moves you, and that involves a little effort on your part. I hope you will find the effort rewarding.

All best wishes.

Reform Judaism

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Rabbi Sue Levy

Expertise

I will be happy to discuss questions about the beliefs and practices of the Jewish people and faith, including but not limited to Reform Judaism. I am not trained as a psychologist and do not, therefore, answer questions about relationships or other personal issues.

Experience

I am a rabbi with twenty-seven years of experience. I was raised in the Reform Movement. I am a Reconstructionist rabbi. I have served congregations in three states and am now retired.

Organizations
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Houston Rabbinical Association, Southern Poverty Leadership Council, Rabbis for Human Rights

Education/Credentials
B.A., political science, Temple University, 1965 M.A., relition, Temple University, 1983 M.A.H.L (Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters), Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, PA, 1986 Rabbinic Ordination, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 1986

Awards and Honors
D.D. (Doctor of Divinity), honorus causa, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 2011

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