OyChicago blog

Our beauty is in our diversity

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09/19/2014

Lia Lehrer photo

I’ve always been a bit of a synagogue hopper.

Right now, when asked where I go to synagogue, I say, “I go to five.” I work at Temple Jeremiah, and I love my community there – meeting all of the congregants has been one of the best parts of my job. I enjoy attending synagogue with my family where I grew up, at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette. I attend two synagogues in Lakeview, the neighborhood where I live – Anshe Emet Synagogue and Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation. And I co-lead Windy City Minyan, a monthly Friday night minyan in the city.

I love Jewish communities. I love the diversity of customs, melodies, faces, teachings, architecture and emotions.

So it’s no surprise that on Yom Kippur last year, I found myself in three different synagogues in one day. I spent the morning humming the melodies of the High Holy Days while greeting congregants and meeting new faces at Temple Jeremiah; in the afternoon I sat with my mom, listening to my dad, brother, and sister-in-law sing in the choir at BHCBE; and I spent the evening Neilah service with my friends at Anshe Sholom.

That day, I experienced a cross-section of our larger Jewish community, splitting my time between the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues. During Neilah at Anshe Sholom, I found myself not paying so much attention to the words on the page, but reflecting on Jewish peoplehood. The Jewish community – our kehillah – is made up of so many different kinds of wonderful, dedicated, intelligent, interesting, and friendly people.

Our beauty is in our diversity.

We Jews are a tiny percentage of the world’s population. I pray that we can come together as a larger Jewish community to be enriched by the uniqueness of our brothers and sisters.

On that Saturday afternoon in September 2013, driving back and forth between Northfield, Wilmette and Lakeview, I had the chance to truly feel the richness of our people; to me, it was like seeing the face of God.

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