My first Synagogue experience at Temple Sinai in Sarasota.

It is completely normal for me to double, triple, quadruple up on events or plans when I go out of town, especially if I haven’t been out of town for a while. This trip was no different. Since I was going to be in Sarasota for the boat show Friday during the day, I decided I should see what synagogues are down there so I can attend Friday Shabbat. I picked Temple Sinai and I’m 100% certain that I made the right choice for my very first experience.

I have been to every single church service you can imagine… Free Methodist, Baptist, Pilgrim Holiness, Pentecostal, Catholic and who knows what else plus all some holidays spent at the services…. but this was my first time ever stepping foot inside a temple/synagogue. It was breathtaking. Of course, we live in the 21st century where we have millions of photos and videos at the tap of a finger, but absolutely nothing compares to walking inside of one. Being there physically, mentally.

Everyone welcomed me with open arms. I was so happy to be greeted with so much love and kindness, and by SO MANY OF THEM …. at the same time… asking all of the questions! But, it was lovely, and my Friday night was certain made.

The service I attended wasn’t a normal one—the night was basically dedicated to the teachers there at the temple as it was a teacher/staff appreciation. But that’s okay, because it reminded me how much I miss all of my teachers and how much I used to shower them with ‘Happy Teacher Appreciation Day/Week’ emails way back when.

Temple Sinai’s service included a lot of singing… which I absolutely love. I recognized the phrase “Baruch atah, Adonai” that I hear a lot from Central Synagogue’s services when I watch/listen to them online.

It is often scary and awkward to be the only one in a large place that doesn’t know the language that the group is speaking/singing. However, that wasn’t the case for me that night, even though I didn’t know any Hebrew (other than those few recognized words). My feeling was more of a… wow, I can’t wait until I can learn the language so I can join in. “I wonder when and how fast and what I need to do to learn?” That was one of my moments on how I knew I am on the right path. Pure bliss… I tell you. I’m sure it’ll be like when I first had to start reading Latin for choir… that I still know how to read to this day, and I often (silently) thank my choir teacher for making us learn those massive masses. But I digress.

Overall, I can’t express my gratitude enough for them welcoming me in their Temple and making me feel completely at home. Literally. I absolutely love Temple Sinai. I am hoping to make it back at least once a month if not once every two months to attend Friday Shabbat. I mean Sarasota isn’t too far away if you really look at it, and I enjoy the place… so why not??