Peace Can Be Found

The beauty of the Shofar entered my soul in a crowded room filled with people I didn’t know. Sitting in between two Jewish men wearing their Yamaka, Tallit and dressed in their coats and ties I allowed myself to intently listen, watch and feel the Rosh Hashanah service. (meaning; I did not check my phone the entire service)

I could have been surprised that the Shofar would touch me so deeply. I am not Jewish. There is no tradition from their faith I recall from childhood with fond memories like I do with my Christian upbringing.

As the sun set and opened Rosh Hashanah only a few days ago, my heart was seeking peace. I was contemplating my path in the interfaith world and how my discoveries are helping me heal from the tragedy in 2014. While I live with the loss daily, my appearance doesn’t lend itself to the brokenness that lives in my soul. From the week of their murders, my father and son, I have been drawn to Judaism.

This year I attended my first Rosh Hashanah services and tried to be Jewish all day. The Temple, Congregation B’Nai Jehudah welcomed me to their Paul Messner Puppet show for the early service. I learned so much from those puppets and was laughing and entertained at the same time. What a wonderful way to educate anyone about anything – a puppet show.

Keeping my footsteps as quiet as I could I found my way into Congregation Beth Shalom after the service started at 10:30am. Each seat seemed to be filled with a person and I walked to an area I would have called “overflow” and stood for a moment assessing my options while attempting to be invisible so as not to interrupt their service.

Although the row I stood next too seemed full, a woman removed a purse from a chair and asked me if I wanted to sit. This is how I found myself in between the two Jewish men wearing their Jewish best.

This wonderful woman, whom I didn’t know and still don’t know, had her husband offer me his prayer book and she gave him hers. We smiled politely as I allowed them to offer me assistance.

Hebrew. I don’t speak Hebrew or understand the language. It was interesting to be in Johnson County, KS listening to so much Hebrew and feeling very international. It didn’t matter that I didn’t understand each word, the prayer book has English text to follow and you can feel the meaning from their words as they recite them in unison.

The service lasted just under three hours so there is no way to describe the full event in this tiny blog post. Of most importance to me was being present with the Jewish people in their sacred space. Why anyone would feel the need to murder them, is beyond me.

Opening the Torah, reading from the Torah - Praying to God as a father, a power who sustains life, able to breathe life into dead matter and caring for all who live. This was the God they were praying too. I pray to the same God.

And then, the Shofar. When your heart is touched and tears form in your eyes, you know something more than beautiful occurred. I liken it to seeing your child walk into kindergarten for the first time, hit the baseball with a bat for the first time or score a goal in game. I also call it the Holy Spirit. From my world view, as a Christian, the Holy Spirit was in the room – God was with us.

My heart was filled with love as I sat in a room full of Jews and possibly other non-Jews. I am sad that my father and son had to die for me to be here. I am thankful to continue to find healing through my own faith and others. There was only peace in the services attended. A peace I think we all seek.

Have you attended a service at a religious location, not your own? Would you like too? I welcome hearing from you about your experiences with faiths that are not your own.

Shane Brethowr