Dangerous Compassions

reasons to attend shabbat


Hello, reader.  How are you?  Do you have reasons to attend Shabbat?  Ming and I attended Shabbat service with our friend at the local Judaism reformationist temple.

Then we were considering whether to attend again this week.  I was tired, so drained, and I didn’t want to go.  Ming considered going without me.

I was cranky and not enjoying myself.  In fact, my mood was hateful to myself.  Yuck–not a good feeling.  The weather felt wrong: strangely hot like summer, after I’d welcomed fall.  It was 80 degrees.  I found myself selfish and annoying, talking shit about people we know–just nasty and unpleasant.  I didn’t want anything to do with me.

But it’s hard to escape the self.  I theorize that many people use drugs in an attempt to escape themselves.

“Why do you want to go without me?” I asked Ming, sort of whiny.

That led to a conversation full of reasons to attend Shabbat, with some reasons considered more valid than others.  Let me share ideas we came up with together.

reasons to attend Shabbat
  • meaningful
  • seeking connection
  • vaguely social–in a group, not needing to engage one on one
  • grounded feeling
  • establish a pattern
  • feel closer to the Divine
  • learn something
  • if we’re drifting away from the quiet Quakers, it might be good to have this shul as a spiritual community
  • interdependence
  • connect with the year, celebrate seasons
  • it was important to Ming before–continuity
  • supporting our Jewish friend
  • being connected to a larger cultural thing
  • bringing the temple rich difference in class, race, and values
  • the music is good
  • the vibe ties in with the Christianity I did as a kid, and some of the mythology is already inside me
  • they are welcoming
  • friends separate from our housing and other local communities we’re part of–to diversify
  • to feel good afterward
falling into it

“I don’t wanna be like falling into it like we don’t have anything better to do,” I told Ming.  “I was thinking of getting a mezuzah for the doorpost of our house, and how that could be cool.  But we have a life–we don’t need to get swept up in this.”

Ming understood what I meant.  A reason to go that Ming found lesser than was for consistency.  Is it silly, to do something just to be consistent?  Is consistency valuable in and of itself?

“I want to go at a 2 out of 10,” Ming told me.  “Or a 3 out of 10.”

“Oh, that’s good to know,” I said.  “If you only want to go a 2 or 3, then I don’t want to go.  Part of how this is confusing if I don’t know how important this religion is to you, in general.  You didn’t go to synagogue at all, that whole time we were in Vegas, or in Sacramento when we lived together.”


It’s hard to make a decision when there are a lot of variables.  I felt scared of Ming going without me, as I am not Jewish, and he has something in common with all those people that I don’t have.  It wasn’t just FOMO–more of a left out, jealousy-fear.  My jealousy-fear was upsetting and contributed to the self-loathing feeling that was troubling me.

I’ve been taught that jealousy is shameful and should be dismissed.  But any fear is a big deal.  Discomfort is ok, but not stress to the point of derailment.

Well, our friend wanted to go, so Ming ended up going to sit with her.  I felt good about that, like people weren’t going to glom onto Ming as a lonely gorgeous Jewish person who needed glomming.  Ming and I don’t wear wedding rings these days, and it was strange to wish he would wear a wedding ring as a symbol of my primacy.

He wore a necklace I made, and he had a good time.  I rested then slept, and woke up hating myself less.


Turns out this passage that stood out to me from last service and photographed from the book is part of the mezuzah scroll.  Wow!


“Why do you like this?” Ming asked.

“I like the idea of centering an idea that much,” I said.  “It reminds me of something–some important thing from when I was little…”

“What is the ‘these words’ being referred to?” Ming asked.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said.  “It’s not about what words others think it should be.  More like–what ideas will I base my life on.  You know for me, the idea could be love, or disability justice.  We could choose it for ourselves.  But this degree of devotion to a central idea is beautiful.”

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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