Sunday, May 26, 2019

Kabbalat Shabbat experiment: Romemu!

Read this post first, to understand how we ended up at a Kabbalat Shabbat service with instrumental music.

We attended Kabbalat Shabbat services this past Friday night at Romemu, and found it a joyful experience that we will gladly repeat.  The two of us joined a circle dancing around the sanctuary during L'Cha Dodi, and sang our hearts out for the rest of the service.  Yes, they had a guitarist, whom I decided mostly to ignore :),  and who, as with the guitarist at our previous "Kabbalat Shabbat experiment," may or may not have been Jewish but was only accompanying, not leading, the service.  But unlike the rabbi at our previous "experiment," Rabbi David Ingber, Rabbi Mira Rivera, and, er, whomever the third rabbi was (my apologies to her), led a service that was unapologetically Jewish.

I do have some serious reservations that might have prevented me from joining Romemu even if I were in a position to do so.  (We don't dare davven [pray] at any synagogue than our own on Shabbat [Sabbath] and Yom Tov [holiday] mornings, lest our own synagogue not get a minyan.)  For one thing, they accept non-Jews as members.  That might work in the case of "family" membership, where at least one spouse/partner is Jewish.  But if this is a blanket "permission," I think that's problematic.  Also, the new Romemu Yeshiva, scheduled to open this summer, will admit non-Jews.  How, exactly, can an institution that calls itself a yeshiva admit non-Jews?  This openness may reflect a "boundary-maintenance" issue with the Jewish Renewal Movement (with which Romemu is affiliated) in general--I'm not entirely sure whether "Deep Ecumenism" is a good thing or a bad thing.  

That said, I can't complain (too much) about any Jewish institution that can pull non-Orthodox Jewish women and men in off the streets of Manhattan on a Friday night to davven (pray).  If Romemu can join other New-York-City-based (or "second-homed") institutions such as Hadar, Drisha, Pardes, the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshivat Maharat in trying to prevent the disappearance of the non-Orthodox Jewish community in the United States, I'm in.



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