Admittedly, the title of my blog is a wee bit misleading. We are, in fact, members of a shul. (Actually, we are members of two shuls, if you count my honorary membership at the synagogue where I teach.) And we do attend every now and then. But I’ve discovered over time that shul doesn’t really work for my family for a number of reasons.
For one, my husband is not Jewish. He’s not anything else, either, but he’s certainly not of the tribe. Since he doesn’t read Hebrew, didn’t grow up with the melodies, and isn’t particularly interested in the Bible, there isn’t much going on within the four walls of the synagogue that can’t be found elsewhere, usually without having to put on a tie.
Second of all, my daughters are three and five. Too old to while away the hours breastfeeding, but too young to spend the morning trying to break into the vending machines the way I did when I was a kid. (Plus, our shul doesn’t have a vending machine. Do any shuls have candy machines these days?) We show up for tot-shabbat now and again, but it’s only once a month, and it’s a starting to get a little too, um, tot-y for us.
Mostly, though, almost everything I love about being Jewish happens at home. There’s the food, of course, and the making of the food. And the talking about the food. (Remember the Jackie Mason bit – “At lunch, Jews talk about dinner; after dinner they talk about where to get coffee, and after that, where to get cake….?” That’s totally how I grew up.) There’s lifting up our daughters so they can reach the shabbat candlesticks that belonged to my mother’s grandmother. Or watching my daughters play Pharoah and the Jews with their Polly Pockets after reading PJ Library books about Passover. Lying side by side in our sleeping bags, staring at the stars, while trying to fall asleep in the sukkah (and never quite making in through the night.) And all the other things I hope to describe in my new blog.
One of these days we may find a shul that gives us all that. But for now, we’re home-shuling.