Friday, March 9, 2007

Sacred Time

Tonight's Shabbat services at Adas Emuno were unusual. Because of a problem with the heating system (human error rather than mechanical), the sanctuary was too cold to use, and there was no way to heat it up in time, so we moved to the religious school building and crowded in to two adjoining little classrooms. The result was a very intimate and enjoyable service. It serves as a reminder that the balance between sacred space and sacred time is weighted much more towards time in Judaism. The 4th Commandment, to keep the Sabbath day, commands us to keep time, to maintain a calendar, and to organize our affairs around the 7-day week. None of the 10 Commandments say anything special about space, about keeping any particular place holy or dedicating space to God. The Sabbath is the Sabbath, wherever you are--location doesn't matter, except insofar as it affects when the sun goes down. And the Sabbath service can be held anywhere, it does not require a special sacred space, it is the time, and presence of the congregation, that makes it holy.

Most Reform Jewish synagogues are called Temples, for example, when I was growing up my family belonged to Temple Isaiah in Forest Hills (no longer in existence, having merged with a couple of others). Adas Emuno calls itself a congregation--it's Congregation Adas Emuno, not Temple Adas Emuno. I thought it was odd at first, but now I think it's really meaningful. It's not the building, the sacred space, that matters. It's the community, the congregation. And communities can only come together and can only continue to exist over time.

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