Post-select-a-shul euphoria underscores new beginning

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Earlier this month, I joined a synagogue. I’m so excited about this development, I can hardly contain myself. I belong to a synagogue: What a glorious ring that has!

It’s not like I haven’t belonged to a synagogue before. When I was growing up, my family belonged to one — my parents, in fact, are still active members there.

And in my 20s, I belonged to the congregation my former husband had joined before we met. But somehow, belonging to a synagogue feels different this time around.

This isn’t a default membership. I made the choice on my own. I did the research, shopped around, got second opinions. I looked at the dues scale and then my checkbook and decided there could be no better investment than joining this warm and welcoming community of Jews.

Now picking a synagogue is no easy task, especially for someone who sometimes has a tough time deciding what to make for dinner or what book to read next. On the scale of decisions, I’d put shul selection somewhere between significant, very significant and so significant I could plotz.

After all, a synagogue can help define one’s spiritual life, and as a result, one’s life in general.

But I think, as in love, you just kind of know when it’s right. In my case, I started noticing that the rabbi’s wise and inspirational insights often stay with me after services have passed. The cantor’s mellifluous voice is like a balm to my soul. There’s even something about the building’s simple architecture that calls to me: “Leslie, Leslie, get your tuchus in here and start davening!”

When it comes down to it, I get the feeling this is a community that fits the person I am and the person I’m becoming. It’s the kind of place where I can envision my future children (from my mouth to my parents’ ears and then straight on to God’s ears).

I guess I could have continued to attend this synagogue without signing on the dotted line. But something told me it was time to make a commitment.

I no longer want to be a wandering Jew, going to Shabbat and holiday services wherever the wind (and, in the case of San Francisco, the parking spaces) take me. I want a place to call home. Fortunately, I’ve found one just in time to net some of those coveted High Holy Day tickets!

But I hope High Holy Days will only mark the very beginning of a fulfilling life as a congregant. I know that it’s up to me what shape that life takes.

Poring over the synagogue’s wide-ranging offerings at this early stage, I feel a bit like a kid in the Pokemon aisle at FAO Schwarz. Maybe I’ll participate in a social-action project or join the education committee. Then again, I might have something to contribute to the rituals committee. I could attend the women’s book group, the daily morning minyans or adult education classes.

Heck, maybe I’ll even ditch the dot-com life and become a rabbi!

But that’s me, always tending toward overenthusiasm. After attending my first yoga class a couple of years back, I passed go and put myself straight on the five-day-a-week regimen. Because really, why experience life in calm, reasoned moderation when you can push yourself straight over the edge?

So maybe I will, in fact, become an über-congregant. Then again, maybe I’ll just go to Shabbat services now and then, make a few new friends and glean some insights into the faith I’m rediscovering day by day. Truth be told, that too would be plenty OK.