harp’s page

logic. life. learner.

My First Shabbat

Posted by jbharp on February 11, 2007

Nearly two weeks ago I visited the Jewish Synagogue Temple Shalom here in Colorado Springs. I went to the Shabbat services held on Friday evening. Unfortunately, I missed the last two weekends, but do intend to go back.

When I walked through the doors, two ladies were standing in the foyer near the sanctuary. I quickly introduced myself to the one with the name tag, Heidi, who was obviously an usher. Within two questions into our introductions I confessed… “I’m Christian.” As if completely unfazed, the one lady (I think her name was Sharon) quipped, “That’s alright. We don’t bite.” Heidi proceeded to give me a service book and instructed me to remember my kippah (KEE-puh, more commonly known as a Yarmulke, YAH-mi-kuh) before I entered the service as she pointed to a basket full of kippahs against the wall.

After I put on my kippah, Heidi escorted me into the sanctuary welcoming me to sit by her. Actually, I think she insisted. She pointed to the second seat on the back row. A split second after I began sitting in the third seat, because the first two were clearly marked “Usher,” she playfully snapped “No sit here between us!” She again pointed to the second seat. I didn’t hesitate to follow her instructions this time.

Moments later entered Fay. As I stood, she squeezed by to claim the seat directly next to me. Upon our meeting she repeated her name three times. After we were aquianted (rather we knew each other’s names) Fay boldly asked, “Where have you been all these years?” So I confessed to her. “I’m Christian. And I just came here because I want to learn.” Her reply was, “Oh good! You just listen to me and Heidi.”

For the next hour I sat between Heidi and Fay on the back row of a scarcely attended service. Heidi and Fay were the noisy ones in the congregation. They clapped to any song they deemed appropriate and conducted numerous conversations around me. They attempted to help me follow along in my service book, but they seemed to have difficultly finding the right page for themselves. As I interacted with them, I noticed a smile remained on my face for the entire service. These two amusing, enjoyable ladies proved to be the highlight of my evening. They were care-free, joy-filled, unashamed, Jewish ladies that welcomed me sincerely.

The words that Heidi said to me while we were still in the foyer is what I will remember most. With indisputable affection, she professed her love for Judaism and declared she would not want to live her life without it.

I’ll share more about this experience and (hopefully) many more to come.

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