It is amazing to me how shabbos always comes right on time. There has been a lot of stuff going on. I do not need to bore you with stories about problems with family members, surgeries, health issues and the like. Simply take my word, it has been a difficult week.
It amazes me how much I actually enjoy going to services and how much it relaxes me. There are plenty of people who see it as a burden, an unenjoyable event, or just something to be avoided. A three hour service on Saturday, to me, is actually relaxing. I like the service, I enjoy listening to sermons (and people who have known me for years would find that hard to believe) and I enjoy the camaraderie.
I have been to my share of church services where there can be no talking, where decorum is key. I actually like the fact that this usually does not take place at a Jewish service. The running around, the talking, the kibitzing, are all part of the entire event.
Many of my non-Jewish friends are amazed as to the way the service goes (although if you are there for a three hour service, to me, it is understandable). I think this may be one of the biggest cultural differences between the religions. Of course things should be kept relatively quiet so they are not distracting to others but the socialization is still very important.
I think back to a conversation I had with an orthodox rabbi as I was making arrangements to be in his synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The rabbi told me he wanted to make sure my sit was next to someone my own age, someone I could talk with.
I looked at the rabbi and said, "You want that on the High Holidays I should be talking with someone instead of davening (praying)"?
He responded by telling me that, "in either event, I’m still going to pound on the lectern for quiet".
It was humorous but also showed his understanding of the synagogue also serving as a place to socialize.
I have always remember that but I still try to keep the majority of my time at services focused on the prayers.