To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Shabbat shalom, exploring the unknown: my experience visiting Shabbat services

“OMG you should totally come to services” were the words that I’d hear whenever my friends would talk about the event. “Hah! Jewish I did” was always the go-to response that left me fighting demons as I’d try to fight back against uttering, fighting an ego higher than gas prices. I never thought about taking up the invitation because I am Muslim, so I find one religion to be more than enough for me. I also did not think it was a situation that I needed to put myself in. However, under the guilt of taking a free bottle from the SCC, I finally decided to take the initiative, Friday at 6 p.m. 


I never knew where services were occurring, as I was planning to go with friends, but I ended up having to find my way there on my own. The first place I headed to was the Multipurpose Room in the SCC scrambling like an egg to get there as soon as possible. Desperately looking for any signs of Hillel, I saw a table with receptionists and name cards. Behind it, I saw fancy tables and shiny silverware. Exchanged words later, it turns out that not only were there several services going on simultaneously, but I didn’t know where to go. I felt screwed like a nut. Luckily though I was given an educational guess that I needed to go to the alumni lounge. The receptionists were really nice, although I forgor their names. 


I headed over to Usdan, walking at an extremely brisk pace, hoping that I could slip in services easily without my entrance attracting the curious eye of the attendees. This brings me to my impression of services. I always imagined a sort of big congregation full of rows with a rabbi preaching for the entirety of the services. I ran into a friend on the way who was drinking an Einstein’s latte, and I made a terrible joke about Brandeis Latte which was without a doubt more than enough to justify my bite orders being stolen for the foreseeable future. I am also glad to report that before entering services, I met someone else who’s name I also cannot remember, but only where he was from. I did in fact open the door to a bunch of eyes facing my direction, but the setting for services was not what I expected. It was chairs in a circle, which made for a more intimate and warm setting.


I tried to go with the flow of services, but luckily for me, everything was explained so that I definitely felt a lot less lost. I picked up a blue song book, with page numbers periodically being announced. The only downside, which did not matter to me all that much, was I could not always sing along because what was being sung was not always on the page, but I imagined that this was simply due to me being an outsider. Those who were already attending already knew the original song, but that doesn’t really matter because I would have hummed, shook my head and vibed regardless. Honestly, that was probably for the best seeing as my “singing” would without a doubt lead to a BEMCo call being made. There was something else I wanted to bring up but I cannot seem to remember which is oh so very sad. Anyway, to sweeten the pot, I got to use eggdog. A plastic egg shaker with dog stickers to be specific, a maraca. There were also moments during which I felt more like I was Jew, like when there were times to acknowledge loved ones.


Before I knew it, time was up like a house being taken away by balloons. Honestly, time flew and I had a fun time. I found the community to be nice and warm and I have no regrets. It was a time just navigating the services, but like a chess piece we move. Anyway, multiple services occurring to accommodate the varying Jewish populations is better than a one size fits all approach. Louis D. Brandeis would turn over in his grave if Brandeis wasn’t accommodating. The way I see it, while you don’t necessarily need to involve yourself with one religion, it doesn’t hurt to poke around a little and see what you can discover. It was an experience to remember. I only have one regret, and it’s that I didn’t somehow deviously lick a Hillel Bag.


Though this occurred well over a month ago, thank Louis D. Brandeis we’ve been blessed with Brandeis Overheard. The post was a quote from a Brandeis student speaking about the event, and they said “It’s a great event, you go, some random Rabbi says deez nuts, everyone claps and then you leave.” This post essentially summarized my thoughts before services, and spoke to me like my mother. God Bless America.

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