by Abe Katz
Query – What Jewish practice has been most responsible for Judaism surviving two thousand years of Diaspora and persecution? Undeniably, it is the synagogue. The requirement that a quorum of ten be present before performing rituals such as the Torah reading and the recital of Kaddish has by default caused Jews to live within close proximity of each other and to a synagogue. The synagogue then became where families developed their social circles – where husbands found wives and children found playmates.
Today, the synagogue competes with other activities that lead to social relationships. Nevertheless, many Jews, among them the Orthodox, still view the synagogue as the center of their social network. How do we impress upon all young Jewish men and women the idea that the synagogue can and should be viewed as the place from where their social circle can sprout, particularly in the years when they attend college and beyond? An argument will be made here that a course of study centered on the synagogue service taught the year before boys reach Bar Mitzvah age and girls reach Bat Mitzvah age can create such a view of the synagogue.