Aliyah Blog

Moving UP in the World, since 5764/2004

A Different Type of Praying Experience

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See this article in Haaretz that talks about the reactions of American olim to their first High Holidays in their new homes.

The first person interviewed complained that “here, the kids had to be quiet and if they made a noise we had to take them out” (awww shucks).

However, if you get past the third paragraph, you will find out that “most of the new immigrants interviewed by Anglo File this week had positive experiences” (nice of them to mention that). “It’s a much more all-encompassing holiday experience here. The notion of saying `Hag Sameah’ [happy holiday] to everyone you know – even before you start a bid on a job site or buy a tool at a hardware store – is something I enjoy. It makes me feel good. No great epiphanies, but for one split moment, people smile and relax.” (Seth Grodofsky, Arad)

The most important point (in my opinion) is made by Goel Jasper of Kochav Yaakov:

Here, [the leadership] was certainly capable but it was not focused on inspiring everybody, so [the service] had much less of a special feeling to it. People outside of Israel have more of a need for ritual. We [in Israel] don’t need the latest and greatest in Sukkah technology or to come up with creative ways of feeling close to God because we’re in his hometown.

Religious communities have a different role in Israel than they do in the Disapora. In Israel there is not so much of a need for the shul to be the center of the community, the religious beacon in people’s lives. Instead it is just one other place where people go throughout their day-to-day lives in order to fulfill some of their religious obligations. (This can and is done in the US as well – it is just much harder for people to do – and much harder to find shuls where it is possible to do this). It will definitely be something to get used to (for some more than others). However, going up in holiness (ma’alin bakodesh) is in general a good thing.

(Thankfully, Haaretz did not publish any accounts of recent olim expressing jubliation at being able to roller blade in the middle of the street and at not fasting on Yom Kippur because being in Israel is good enough).

Written by Yaakov

October 20th, 2005 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Aliyah,Israel

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