Full disclosure: I am not a believer, nor am I particularly religious. However, I maintain a synagogue membership. I joke that I attend for the food, which is partially true. I participate during high holidays and fun holidays, Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Purim.
This year, during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur 5776, I had a slowly dawning realization. Synagogue-going depresses me. Let me explain: I have been a member for over a decade and year after year, I attend alone or with one of the boys in tow. It is really sad. Synagogues, churches, spiritual communities are by their very nature, family-oriented and family-friendly. Maybe when the boys were small and we attended Tot Shabbat and the annual family retreat, I felt more part of this family community. For the past few years, I have greeted the people I know, then sat . . . alone.
The dinners and events used to be a treat, but recently I have begun to feel like it is the first day of high school and I have to scan the cafeteria for a face I know. "Hi, I am Lydia. May I join you?" It is getting old.
Everyone is friendly enough, of course. People make life-long friendships through their children's cohort. The parents whose kids were in the preschool program together are still close. Hart's and Jeff's peers would now be finished with college, had I met those parents through Hebrew School, which I did not, as my kids had to be tutored privately.
I love our synagogue, primarily for its inclusive and progressive nature, the camaraderie, the social justice activities. Until recently, we had a popular and charismatic rabbi. Maybe this year's rent-a-rabbi was a disappointment by comparison.
The take-away? Holiday blues are not just for those who celebrate Christmas.