I attended conservative Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat services today, having previously attended each in reform. Each has advantages and disadvantages:
- Guitar/instruments: Present in reform. A positive experience for me. The conservative practice that music should not be played since the destruction of the temple is silly in my opinion. Why are we still mourning? Let's be active and lively and rebuild a bit, no? Let's bring back the instruments and show those persecutors that we survived until today, and we're gonna dance and sing and play about it.
- English: Reform services - There's still Hebrew prayers, so it's not too bad, but there is a lot more English. I like that a lot because, for the first time in some cases, I can really hear what we're praying about, and understand it. At the same time, it feels less Jewish, as though we're at church or something. Praying in Hebrew connects all Jews around the world. I'm not ready to give that up.
- Length: Conservative services are a bit too long. Reform, a bit too short. Don't rush, people, but don't drag it out - can we compromise?
- Mourners' Kaddish: Conservatives alienate the people mourning by making them stand and recite. I always hated that. I want to stand up with them and show that I'm there to support them. In reform services, everyone stands and recites together. The downside: You don't know to respect anyone who is actually mourning. Consensus? None.
- Overall: Reform has more people and more music, but conservative has just as much enthusiasm and singing. Conservatives discuss the Torah portion, not so much in reform. But the reform services read haftorah in English - so we actually heard the story, not some melodic nonsense. But melodic nonsense sounds pretty. Hmm.
Bounce back and forth, of course. =)