In her last post, Abby Sher, author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Mem­oir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Pray­ing (Among Oth­er Things) wrote about revis­it­ing her child­hood syn­a­gogue. She is blog­ging all week for MyJew­ish­Learn­ing and the Jew­ish Book Council.

Uh oh, these are real Jews, I thought.

Kids my age – all around twen­ty or so – read­ing the Torah and pray­ing like Woody Allen did in Take the Mon­ey and Run when he took an exper­i­men­tal drug to get out of prison and turned into an Ortho­dox rab­bi for sev­er­al days. I had been only in my Reform syn­a­gogue for my first eigh­teen years of life, so I didn’t know any­one with­out a beard could prac­tice this fer­vent­ly. I was hum­bled by their piety and dis­ci­pline. I was espe­cial­ly ner­vous when they did the silent Ami­dah and every­one was say­ing some­thing in a low bur­ble, many peo­ple rock­ing too. I tried to repeat the Eng­lish parts as fast as I could but I was always the last one stand­ing and had rarely got­ten more than half way through. I nev­er under­stood what I had read either and what if the most impor­tant part was at the end?

But some­thing that I did enjoy about these ser­vices was the anonymi­ty of this kind of wor­ship. I had been to tem­ple sole­ly as the daugh­ter of my par­ents, anoth­er gen­er­a­tion of a lin­eage. When I went to Hil­lel, I loved that I could slip in and try new har­monies on songs and brush my hair on the oth­er side and even stand up for Kad­dish and nobody knew me or my his­to­ry. I loved that I was here in this moment for the first and only time.

I tried a few more shuls in Chica­go, most­ly when I had an invi­ta­tion from a friend, and once I moved back to New York I start­ed look­ing in Brook­lyn, usu­al­ly with a shul bud­dy. But I felt mild­ly dis­placed; stand­ing on the edge, maybe get­ting my navel wet, cer­tain­ly not ready to dive under. I told myself it was the unfa­mil­iar music that jarred me. Or the slight­ly too con­ser­v­a­tive litur­gy that made me feel stiff. But then I tried a ser­vice with a gui­tar and mel­low singing and that felt even more awkward.

I went back to a ser­vice at Larch­mont Tem­ple for my lit­tle cousin’s Bat Mitz­vah and the clos­ing song had changed tunes on me. I thought of chant­i­ng one of my yoga mantra’s in the back­ground, in protest.

Abby Sher is the author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Mem­oir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Pray­ing (Among Oth­er Things). Come back all week to read her blog entries. And, check out her offi­cial web­site here.