By: Rebecca Silverman

I have been in Chicago for a decade, but when I look back on my first few years here, I was essentially a “wandering Jew” in search of a spiritual community. I had tried many of the local synagogues of various denominations, but never really felt at home.

Fast-forward to 2017, and I could not feel more lucky or grateful that Mishkan is a part of my life. I feel truly at-home in this progressive, participatory, and welcoming community that fulfills everything I want out of a spiritual practice. It is a space where community members do not just sit and listen to prayer or sermons, but actively engage in it, whether that means singing and dancing during services, getting involved in volunteerism, or studying Talmud with new friends.

In general the High Holidays are a way for me to stop and reset. I always use this time to be introspective about my past year and to set aside my expectations for the future, and I think of the High Holidays as a high point of my autumns. I used to sing and play guitar for Mishkan’s davening team, but stepped back after I needed some more time to myself. However, when Rabbi Lizzi put out a call for people to read Torah during the High Holidays, I knew this was a way for me to continue my involvement in services, no matter how small.

In this photo, we had just taken the Torahtot out of the ark and were carrying them around the congregation so everyone could participate. I loved walking around the floor and I bet this was taken when I saw someone I knew and was excited to say hello to them!

I felt a strong sense of community as I walked around with the Torah, thinking about how many people I have met over my past five years at Mishkan and how many I recognized as I was carrying the Torah. The way Mishkan has grown is incredibly impressive, and I am so glad to have been a part of that growth. I was also probably a little nervous as I was about to read my Torah portion! I hope you can come hear me again this year, as I recite the fifth Aliyah during the first day of Rosh Ha’Shanah.