My daughter calls me, no Talmudic issue, a simple statement: I don’t know if I’m feeling services this year. I can relate. I myself feel a little like a wandering Jew, not sure where my spiritual affiliation belongs. Call me a seeker. Call me a ‘Jubu’ (i.e., that charming acronym denoting those of us entrenched in the culture of Judaism but exploring/embracing Buddhist ways).
Call me a woman who cannot let Yom Kippur pass without spending some time in a synagogue. What’s the point in fasting, I ask myself, if not to be part of the ritualistic bigger picture? Even crammed into a sanctuary that swells during the holidays, I’m a part of a ritual that connects me to something beyond myself. The Yizkor service in memory of those gone from this world is just one reason to be there, the irony being that what takes the edge off hunger of a physical kind has me hungering for something else.
Just last week a New York Times article re: bringing more meaning and less over-the-top partying to that rite-of-passage known as Bar/Bat Mitzvah struck a chord. How do we keep traditions alive, without too much diluting of them? With each generation further from the fold, how do we celebrate without the ache of what’s gone?
So when my daughter tells me about this thing she’s thinking about doing, Spin-A-Gogue, I laugh out loud, only in L.A. “I’d go with you if I lived out there,” I tell her. “Just for the experience.” Not that she needed my blessing. Only one more thing, I said. If you do go, you have to write about it for my blog. She asked if I was paying ;-), at least for the class. So here it is, a guest blog post. My daughter’s spin on spinning in the Jewish New Year.
Take it away, Sara Dolin.
Man, did the Jewish holidays come up fast this year, am I right? Like usually you say “oh they feel early” or “oh they feel late” but this is like early, early, like still recuperating from Labor Day hot dogs early.
Los Angeles is full of “High Holiday Jews” (like me), and there’s no shortage of places to go—some free, some that make you pay for holiday services. A little Jewish guilt, even 3,000 mile from family, goes a long way. Some years I’ve gone to services with friends feeling the same guilt, some years work has been too busy for me to feel okay about taking off. This year, I was too distracted by life to make plans.
Having spent the better part of the summer hobbling around on crutches (first in a cast, then a walking boot) because of a fractured ankle, the past few weeks of my life have been spent making up for lost time. I was an avid exerciser before injuring myself, so getting emails from all the studios that I would spin at or work out at over the summer was pretty torturous for a girl who had a hard time just taking a shower. This one really got my attention:
“Party like it’s 5774! We’re celebrating the Jewish New Year with Adam Goldstein at the Spin-A-Gogue on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Ride to the best hits from Jewish artists.”
I knew the class had to be fun, because Adam is a great and energetic teacher. I thought about it: Be a good (holiday) Jew, and go to The Laugh Factory (hahaha I’m not kidding) or the Chai Center on Rosh Hashanah. Or mark the Jewish New Year by bringing myself back to something I’ve missed more than anything.
Growing up, going to temple on the High Holidays was not so much about the religious aspect as it was about seeing your friends from Hebrew School and gathering with families you grew up with. It was a community. You knew exactly who you would see every year.
In spin classes like those offered at Flywheel or Soul Cycle, you’re in a dark, windowless room, with yes, some air circulation, but more importantly a lot of sweat. You’re riding as a pack. Sometimes a teacher will tell you to turn to the person next to you and hi-five them or say something inspirational like “you’re beautiful!” and you buy into it, because the energy is there and you’re feeling it.
Since you’re in the dark, you can also choose to ride solo, which I where I am these days, at the back of the room, because I can’t keep up with everyone the way I used to. Not yet, anyway. It’s not all bad, though, because riding solo is a time to reflect on my personal and physical goals. Spinning has been there to help me work through stress or whatever I’m dealing with in life. It was hard for me to not have an outlet like that this summer, so now it’s more important than ever.
If I was expecting to spin to Mandy Patinkin or Matisyahu, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Any artist with a family member who is Jewish clearly qualifies for the song list. And anyone in the class with me has to be smiling about why we’re here.
Spin is my community, it’s my time for reflection. How about I start the New Year spinning in the dark to Pink, Lenny Kravitz, Adam Lambert and Adam Levine, not alone, not with my family, but with other nomads looking for a little something more from life like me.