A Night Out With Old Jewish Men…And Some New Ones
I was walking down a long hallway in a Jewish synagogue yesterday morning. A group of men was about to go out into the streets to participate in a traditional prayer meeting. Several of them were still dressed in their prayer shawls, a group of men I don’t recognize in the middle of the group. They’re all the same age, men in their late 50s and early 60s. One of them is dressed in a black turtleneck with blue stripes and red elbow pads. His brown curly hair is short and unkempt. I get a strange look on my face, but then they leave.
A few other men in the synagogue come up to me. They are all wearing long black coats and ties. One is dressed in a suit and the other is dressed in a white shirt and a black bow tie. One of them has a long, flowing black braid on his shoulder and the other one has a long white braid. A third man is wearing a blue-and-white-striped shirt. I nod at each of the men as they pass by me. I smile at them.
That’s when I realize what I’m seeing.
“It’s not that they’re dressed like they went to a funeral, it’s actually good.”
“No,” I tell myself. “But it’s just the same story. This is a Jewish man dressed like a rabbi on his way out to lead a prayer. Just the same story.”
“This is what happens when you don’t take your religion seriously,” I tell myself. “It’s like being in a cult or a group of people that you’ve never heard of before and never want to see again. How could they see that and yet remain silent? How could that be? You could just say one word. Just one word and it would cause them to go silent.”
We could walk from my house to this synagogue, and in my mind’s eye, I can see the rabbi, the men