יום שישי, אוקטובר 20, 2006

 

Interfaith and 'call and response'

Nice post by Rabbi Bachman: "Bring it Back Home." He notes that when he was growing up in Milwaukee his synagogue (Reform) would have annual exchanges with a local African American church, with the pastor and rabbi giving sermons to the other's congregation. He recently participated at his shul in Brooklyn in an ecumenical anti-war religious rally with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim representation in the pulpit. He says we need more of this sort of exchange, to which I can only say amein.*

Rabbi Bachman:

...if I may share a word about my own experience of speaking from the pulpit in a context in which there is every expectation of “call and response,” allow that word to be EXCELLENT.

Jews: you are put on warning. I want more responses, more amens, more “that’s right, Rabbi,” from you all on Shabbos because I’m liking the feel of that. It enlivens the inspirational moments of preaching and brings Sinai down to earth in a way I had never quite experienced before. [my emphasis]

I have not had experience in enough different shuls (yet) to know, but I suppose there is some variance in the extent to which Jewish services have elements of the call and response. There are certainly parts of our services where the "regulars" join in with the cantor even though there is no such indication in the prayer book. But I have noticed an occasional visitor (one Sephardic Jew orignally from Egypt stands out) who will intersperse an amein somewhere where no one else in our congregation does. And I love the sound of that.

On the interfaith theme more generally, I am encouraged by the trial run we gave the new Reform prayer book over the summer. Its authors have incorporated some elements from other traditions as options. I noticed specifically, in the footnotes, that some additions have come from Sufi prayers. Like the African American Christians, but in their own way, the Sufis really know how to get the whole congregation involved! I remember one notable scene in a 'Lonely Planet' TV series when the travellers were at Sufi prayer circle in Syria. I mean a real, moving circle, as in men--only men, alas--locked arm-in-arm and rocking, jumping, praying. It looked like quite a workout, physically as well as spiritually!

One regret I have this month is that, with Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah having coincided this year for the first time in 33 years, the month is about to close and it looks like I will not attend an interfaith iftar (the festive meal that breaks the daily fast).

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* Rabbi Bachman meant more ecumenical/interfaith events, not more antiwar events, though we could use more of those, too, no matter whose war it might be. And yes my words just spoken here in this footnote constitue a reference to the Israeli-Hezbollah war of this past summer, of which I hope to have some personal "Jew in Process" thoughts in another post someday.

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