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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

The Power of Ritual


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From Rabbi David

38 years ago this Shabbat I stood on the bimah in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate becoming a Bar Mitzvah. We lived on the campus of a prestigious private school where my father was the business manager. After the service at my synagogue we had the party in my living room, catered by the cafeteria of the school. My entertainment was an accordion player and my very elderly and quite crazy grandmother on piano. I had three friends there along with all of my father's work colleagues.

The service was at Brith Shalom Keneset Israel, a large Conservative synagogue in which I was very involved (Hebrew school, weekly Shabbat services, youth group, etc.) I remember my rabbi being a large (both figuratively and literally), overwhelming and slightly scary presence.

Despite not having had the most positive Bar Mitzvah experience, there is something about it that lingers with me: A deep pride in that moment of my life and a sense of connectedness to something larger than myself. I think that's the power of ritual and why ritual is such a vital part of the Jewish experience. Joyful or mournful, ritual helps us feel a part of something larger than our own existence. But ritual is not only for the religious - we have rituals throughout our lives: At home, in school, at work... The rituals we create with your children throughout the year become a part of their memories and help them feel connected to their class and our community as a whole. Whether we are lining up with our tushies on the wall, waiting for Hershey each Shabbat, or saying a blessing before we eat, our Gan Sinai rituals will last with us for years to come and remind us that we were, and are, a part of something special. #iamsinai

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