Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Every Shabbos, without fail, Morris goes to his Orthodox shul. One day his daughter asks him, Daddy, you’re an atheist. Why, then, do you go to shul every week?

My dear daughter, he responds, every week in shul I sit next to Mr. Friedman. Mr. Friedman is there to talk to G-d. I’m there to talk to Mr. Friedman.

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As we know, the concept of shul may mean different things to different people. Hopefully, for most of us it means the place to daven with a minyan, connect to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and feel spiritually recharged. Seeing our friends and enjoying the kiddush is also an added incentive. But the forced shutdown of shuls for long periods of time during the pandemic upended a lot of connection to our religious centers. Baruch Hashem, most people have returned. But others haven’t.

It’s a reminder that we have to redouble our efforts to reach out and welcome back those who got out of the habit. Our connection to our shuls need to be strengthened. Some may come to shul to talk, but we want to make sure others come back to shul to daven.

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Rabbanit Dr. Adena Berkowitz, a practicing therapist, is Scholar in Residence at Kol HaNeshamah NYC, Senior Educator at MJE and author of The Jewish Journey Haggadah.