Today as I walk through the rain, umbrella in hand, I pass a couple pushing a stroller. She in a headscarf, he in a black hat. I see a mother with her children, the little boy no more than six, wearing a kippa with prayer tassels at his waist. A girl walking home in a long, dark skirt. A hut on the side of a house for Sukkot. Two men in suits with full beards and ear curls. Families modestly dressed on their way to and from synagogue, welcoming in the Sabbath. I want to greet them, Shabbot Shalom, but I am on the outside. I feel slight shame for my short sleeves, although they see much worse, and I wonder if my appearance offends them. I don't want to disturb their lifestyle or their Sabbath, so I repeat it in my mind instead, Shabbot Shalom.
I'm drawn to them, their appearance and their rituals, their lifestyle and devotion. They are so impressive to me. I admire their distinction in a crowd and their decision to completely live their beliefs every day, all day, not just on the Sabbath. I would love to get closer, to understand a little better, but I don't think they would let me in. I want to be like them. And I ask myself, Why aren't you like them? Does their religion mean more to them than yours does to you?