Monday, March 13, 2006

A New Term

Went to my first ever b'nai mitzvah on Saturday. I'd previously been to bar and bat mitzvahs, but even the term b'nai mitzvah was new to me. It was for a boy and a girl together. In this case, they happened to be twins, but I don't know if being a twin is a requirement for a b'nai mitzvah.

But my point is not about terminology, but about religion. Sitting in the temple, as the rabbi and the cantor gathered the congregation around them and the mitzvah kids, I thought, this is what makes religion worthwhile -- community and ritual. Yet I see millions upon millions of people who use their religious beliefs as a way to sow terror and intolerance. Yes, many are reaching out and truly ministering -- but shouldn't that be what spirituality always leads to? A sense of connection to each other in an incomprehensively mysterious existence that leads us to care for one another?

1 comment:

Paul Salinger said...

so,I read a really interesting article in the Times last week (think it was Saturday) about this Syrian woman, who is Muslim, but was talking about how she is attempting to engage the Muslim world in a different dialogue about how to respond to things. pointing out that the Jews never suicide-bombed Germans, never responded to humiliation with violent protests that destroyed their own infrastructure, etc.

anyway, interesting article and I agree with your assessment here. not religious myself these days, but did go to a (Catholic) mass the other day for a friend that had a heart attack last week and was on life support (doing better now), and also thinking that the part about religion that does make sense to me is those pieces that ritual identifies with and the community that creates caring for each other.

I'm debating going to a bar mitzvah this weekend, but maybe I'll go now, because I do think that these kinds of rituals and passages in life are important and that if you can create community and take some of the dogmatic and hateful parts out of religion, the world might be a better place.