The other night I went to B'nai Or with my parents. I felt excited to attend a service because the descriptions of them sounded like something I would like.... even Sharon has liked services with them. There was a part of me though that doubted... how could it possibly be that different from what I grew up with which was far from anything that I can connect with.
The people of B'nai Or have been very supportive to me and my family throughout this journey. When I was trying to figure out how to get breast milk from Vermont they even offered to drive and get it (all but one of these people I had never even met).
I went to a guinea pig class in Boston the other night. When Tom got to them and asked them how they heard about it the answer was from Eva Friedner and her daughter Tamar..... I had never met these people before in my life. It turns out that they are from B'nai Or and felt inspired by my story.
Anyway.... I felt so drawn in by the service. There was live band, lots of singing, and chairs set up in a tight horseshoe. The Rabbi played a fairly small role in things, stood in front of everyone without hiding behind a podium, sat in the same chairs as everyone else, and wore jeans and a button down shirt. Every time a suggestion was made of what to do it was always followed by an offer that if that doesn't work then do what works for you. Stand up or do whatever works best for you for silent prayer for example. I appreciated the high value I felt was placed on listening to oneself and being true to where one is at in that moment. During the service people were standing and sitting, dancing and not dancing, moving and being still. Everything was accepted.
That night there was a small ceremony honoring one woman for a sort of right of passage as a respected elder woman in the community. I have never even heard of such a thing in the religion. The ceremony was lead by women and the woman who was the center of attention seemed to be mostly comfortable in that position because of the love and connection she was receiving.
Another thing I noticed was that there were a lot of women in their 50's and 60's who let their hair be its natural color, all variations on grey. It struck me that so many woman in this age group dye their hair that I rarely am surrounded by woman showing their natural aging process. I felt fulfilled by this in a sort of primal way. It was as if I was part of a tribe and for most of my life most of the woman in one age group left the tribe for some reason and then all of a sudden things changed and those woman came back. I felt more complete, connected, comfortable. I felt connected to being surrounded by elders, people with life experience. I hadn't realized how much being surrounded by woman who dye their hair has at some level left me feeling a lack of connection with elder even when I am surrounded by "elders." The visual cue is apparently more important for me than I realized.
I finally met people who had been sending energy my way for the last 6 months. Their concern and love felt deep and strong. I feel very happy that my parents have found this community. My connection with Jew would be very different had I been raised with this as the model. I am excited to have learned that this is possible and exists... maybe someday I will pursue it further.