Learning to be Jewish
 
Services were my least favorite part,

mostly because of all the standing, sitting, then standing again,

but apparently that was important to do as a community,

I disliked it immensely


but thinking back now

it was because no one had told me it was okay to question things inside the temple walls.


So I grumbled and begrudgingly sang all the words I had memorized,

- sounding harsh at times and far away -

that I felt had no relevance to me.


Even those in this community had senses of piety I knew were false here

so devoted were they to the words 

and showing up to be counted there

because numbers matter


and I would not read or say words about redemption and goodness and praise

if it meant nothing to me as it did them

only they had the glistenings of tears in their eyes

to fool me,


or themselves.


I am an adult now

and I still rarely attend a service,

and I still think it is a forced habit,

going


but growing up has its perks like understanding

understanding that the words we say stand for are not prayers but a history

a long line that those with the tears try so hard not to forget,

though they never remembered it in the first place. 


I don’t pretend to remember

but if I don’t stop learning

the code behind the words, the psychology of the language, the tone, the tears


maybe I can find out.