I love routine. As I
have said before, I think change is overrated. Back in the (oy!) 80s, I used to go to aerobic studio workouts. I have the leg warmers to prove it, but now I
keep them around to make my kids laugh. And
I loved that we did the same workout routine every time. I knew how many leg lifts and jumping jacks
to do and all that. I was very comfortable in the routine, and yes….I
looked better, too.
I find comfort in other routines. Coffee and the paper every morning, doing the
crossword in pen first, just like my grandfather did it, and how my mother
still does, and then reading the rest of the paper. Do not ever suggest to me that reading it on a screen is even close
It’s not that I can’t handle change. I’ve proven I can, over and over. That doesn’t mean I like it, it just means I
can do it. Routine, for me, is the soft
ground I can land on when I get bounced around by change. It’s both feet on the ground when I need to
feel grounded. I think that’s one of the
reasons I didn’t like living where there are no seasons. (Hello, California.) I like the predictability (don’t laugh) of
the weather changing as we move around the year. It will be spring. It will be summer, and it will be fall. Yes, it will be winter, too, but that’s okay,
because spring comes after that.
Routine in my Jewish world is comforting, too. I was raised in a very traditional synagogue, where I learned how to daven, to pray. I learned the words, at least, really really
well. And now, though there is much that
I eschew about the traditional language when translated, I prefer a more traditional service. I love some of the new prayer books, new
liturgy translations, new poetry and
such. And I can forgo cantor repetitions, happy to do so. But I
don’t like changing it up. Well, that’s not exactly true – I do like to
change it up sometimes, as long as I know it’s coming. (Anita? Your therapist
is on the line.) The Hebrew I have
known so long is so familiar to me that I can lose myself in it, finding new
layers to it. I can focus on a word or
thought here or there, because I know next week, the whole prayer will be there
and I can focus on another word or thought.
I know for others, it’s too much. Some days, it just doesn’t click, and I just stop. Some days it does. But I keep at it, just the same, until it clicks
There is routine in Jewish life, and for that I am routinely
grateful. We read the Torah in the same
order, each year. We greet the same ol’
portions like good ol’ friends we can tangle with, struggle with, embrace,
recognize, and then find something we hadn’t seen before. We celebrate the same holidays, mark the same
seasons, acknowledge the passing of time the same way each trip around the
sun. It is this that gives the routine
meaning, I think. It is the familiarity
that breeds not contempt, but comfort.
Wishing everyone a Judaism they can feel comfortable in.