Welcome to Hip Hop Shabbat.
When Mark Firestone was searching for a shul to join, he didn't look for a shul that had a nursery school or Hebrew school attached. Nor did he fret about the services he'd be getting for his membership fee. Instead, he wanted a shul that was quiet.
"I wanted it to be very quiet, so you can hear yourself daven, and hopefully Hashem can hear it," said Firestone, a Pico-Robertson life insurance salesman who belongs to Aish HaTorah. "I have been to other shuls where you can barely hear the Torah reading, because people are talking so much. Aish has zero tolerance for people talking in shul."
For many Jews, the High Holidays is a time when they consider joining or renewing their synagogue memberships. However, what attracts them to synagogues, and what rabbis feel is important when choosing a synagogue, is not always the vast array of services that synagogues and temples provide.
Many members and rabbis feel that it is the intangibles -- the atmosphere in the shul or the feeling of community that really attracts people, not the Hebrew school, youth program or adult education that is offered.
Let's face it. Many people go to synagogue on the High Holidays because they have to. A feeling of poorly understood and unappreciated obligation can pervade this time of year. But it doesn't have to. You can put yourself or your children in the spirit and in the know with help from this by-no-means-comprehensive list of titles that elucidate the prayers and customs of the holiday.
Elaine Romero experienced "a cool fusion of art and life" when she wrote the play "Secret Things."
The play tells the story of Delia, a Latino journalist, who goes to New Mexico to investigate the origins of an anonymous package she received postmarked from there containing articles about Crypto-Jews (that is, descendants of the "Marrano" Jews of the Spanish Inquisition, who openly practiced Catholicism but conducted Jewish rituals in secret to escape persecution). In New Mexico, Delia finds herself mysteriously drawn to the world of Crypto-Jews, and reluctantly comes to terms with her own Crypto-Jewish roots.
When Romero, also a Latino, was writing the play, the same thing happened.