Sunday, October 6, 2013

Learning the Sh'ma #1

(You can find an index of all the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism here. )

So I have taken it upon myself to learn the Sh'ma. In Hebrew. Chanted.

I've been thinking about it for quite some time (since the High Holy Days in fact at the beginning of September) but hadn't made the effort until I went away on retreat at Mt. Calvary monastery in Santa Barbara (Order of Holy Cross Episcopal monks are awesome. Just sayin'.)

I questioned why I wanted to learn the Sh'ma, the prayer that is said every morning and evening by observant Jews and every service, it seems, at Beth Israel. (Hey, I've been to 8.5 services so far, including two I watched via livestreaming, so I could be wrong about the "every" service part.)

At first I thought it was because knowing this prayer, I would feel less left-out at these services.

Oh, I had the first line down...
Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloeinu Adonai Echad.
Hear, O Israel, The Lord is Our God, the Lord is One.
I haven't figured out how to chant it as I don't remember the melody/tune/trope for it but I did know that much.

But still, was "not feeling left out" a good enough reason to learn it?

Of course it wasn't. The prayer had to be a prayer for me. Something I could agree with and say with all my being. Not mouthed words which would be an insult to the Jewish congregation around me as well as to God.

The next few posts shall be about my exploring each part of the Sh'ma to see if I could really pray this.

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