How We Pray: “Something Clicked, and Something Changed.”
When I read this morning’s article "How We Pray," I cannot tell you how happy it made me. I am grateful anytime hear that a person has found something that allows them a deeper connection to the world around them and a stronger sense of meaning, be it through G-d and, as in Naomi’s case, a strict observance of religious law, or through music, or even through football (alas, we do not know a lot about the latter at BU).
I finished reading the article, and then watched the slide show. I did a double take. The last sentence of the article said "Chabad" and all the pictures in the slide show were of Hillel. The two are not the same and the article portrayed them as if they were. The pictures in the slide show were of Hillel, but only part of the religious observance there was represented. I think students involved with Hillel would say these pictures and commentary make it appear that there is only one way at Hillel, when in fact this was just one of many ways people come together at Hillel.
On a regular Friday night at Hillel, you see throngs of students climbing the four flights of stairs up to our chapels. Yes, three chapels, and recently some stop on the second floor and use another space as a temporary chapel. At Hillel, you have Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and now Sephardic services running concurrently. Each group has a differen’t prayer book, different traditions, different songs, and different ways of welcoming our weekly day of rest, Shabbat. After each group has prayed, we come together outside the chapels for Kiddush, the blessing over the wine. Next we head downstairs for dinner, and then many stay on to celebrate Shabbat long into the night.
Some people continue a more traditional Shabbat observance like Naomi. Others find the height of their observance in finally having a place in the week to call home and talk to their families. Others still make sure their Shabbat clothes can double as party clothes and are ready to go as soon as they get a text message from their friends. I watch this every Friday night and think, I am blessed to see this; I am lucky to see all types of Jewish students celebrating Shabbat together, each in his own way.
Tonight at sundown, students will already be gathered in the Hillel and other locations on campus to welcome Rosh HaShanah, the new year. My hope for the new year is simple, to continue to see the variety of students in Hillel, each finding those connections in their own ways. You do not have to be Orthodox to come to Hillel. You do not have to be Conservative or Reform or Reconstructionist to come to Hillel. You do not have to be Ashkenazi or Sephardic; you do not even need to know the difference between the two. All you have to do is come to Hillel, and stay as long as you like.