...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hal'leluya, hal'leylu! YAH, my God, I am praising you.

This weekend is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, and P'nai Or is celebrating in good Jewish Renewal-style, with a lot of emphasis on environmental conservation and the responsibility of the Jews to lead the nations in care for God's creation; as they put it on their website, "to heal the world from Global Scorching" (the language of tikkun olam should be obvious!). I'm going to a Tu B'shvat seder tomorrow at 7 at the shul. I love Spirit-filled weekends like this: the monthly Taizé prayer service was last night; I went to Shabbat services this morning; and tomorrow I'll to go UCC services in the morning then the Tu B'shvat seder in the evening.

Every week after Shabbat services at P'nai Or, they have an oneg (kind of like a fellowship hour. I'm not sure if oneg needs an article in front of it. "They have oneg?" If you know, feel free to correct me) and the rabbi blesses the Kiddush cup. I usually leave immediately after the service ends instead of staying for oneg because I feel shy about talking to people I don't know and awkward about standing around by myself pulling little pieces off of the challah loaf. Today I ended up staying, though, and talked with several people; they're not so scary, after all. At one point the rabbi, Reb Aryeh, and I were standing next to each other and he was like, "So. I see you've been attending services for awhile now. What's your story?" We ended up talking for about twenty, twenty-five minutes about my faith background and the Jewish Renewal movement, and the differences between mystical and ascetic orientations towards the world (although our language was not quite so explicitly Weberian). One thing I love about P'nai Or is the singing, dancing, clapping, and free-flowing Spirit; it's so, so different than staid mainline Protestant services. In fact, the rabbi told me that he feels he has more in common, spiritually if not theologically, with a charismatic Pentacostal church than he does with more mainstream Jewish denominations. That's a sentiment I definitely understand, since I feel like I have more in common spiritually with mystical practitioners of all religions than I do with inner-worldly ascetic Christians--which is anti-intuitive, given by Congregational roots.