Growing up, I never belonged to a synagogue, but my mom found a way for us to attend services. Many years we went to Shema Yisrael – The Open Synagogue. Some years we attended Congregation Bet Haverim with a family friend. A couple of years we streamed services through The Temple. So I am no stranger to streaming services. Back then I was not a fan; I liked getting dressed up and going to services.
When I graduated from Kennesaw State University, I got an email from Hillel explaining that a few of the synagogues in Atlanta offer free membership to people under 30. Never belonging to a synagogue, I took them up on the offer and joined Temple Sinai and Temple Emanu-El. At the time, I also worked for Congregation Etz Chaim.
Last year, I attended Etz Chaim for high holiday services. I helped moderate the youth services as part of my job. It felt so nice to be in the synagogue singing along at services with all the kids.
This year, I got invited virtually to services for Sinai and Emanu-El, and although I’m not a member, Etz Chaim, because I had worked there for four years and made many connections. I hopped around a bit, but ultimately landed on Emanu-El. I enjoyed that it was livestreamed on Facebook so I’d get a notification on my cellphone when services started.
Prior to this September, I didn’t know much about this synagogue that I joined. Watching services, I learned so much. I thought it was so beautiful that Rabbis Max and Rachael Miller are married with a baby girl. I loved each of their sermons and Rabbi Spike Anderson’s, which hit close to home for me. I also enjoyed Cantor Lauren Adesnik’s beautiful voice.
My mom and I watched Rosh Hashanah services on my cellphone in my backyard surrounded by trees and nature while my puppy played. It was very spiritual and cozy. The rabbis and cantor made us feel like we were there with them and not watching through a tiny screen.
For Yom Kippur, I starvingly watched on my couch with my mom and my napping puppy beside me. It was very nice because we had services on all day. Even while we were cooking for break the fast, we listened to the Neilah [final] service, which was so beautiful. When we heard the shofar blow, we knew it was time to eat!
While most people I talked to enjoyed it but want to get back into shul next year, I would love to stream services again next year.