Abby Sher, author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Mem­oir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Pray­ing (Among Oth­er Things), is blog­ging all week for MyJew­ish­Learn­ing and the Jew­ish Book Council.

There are some things I love to change -– my socks or sta­tionery, for exam­ple. I’m also okay with chang­ing radio sta­tions, as long as it hov­ers near NPR. But with most oth­er aspects of my life -– which train I ride, which jour­nals I write in, which side of the bed, side of the debates, seat at the table, cof­fee fil­ters, pens, did I men­tion I’m wear­ing my t‑shirt from sixth grade grad­u­a­tion as I type this? -– when it comes to per­son­al evo­lu­tion, I’m not so great.

Which is prob­a­bly why I found it par­tic­u­lar­ly unac­cept­able when my syn­a­gogue decid­ed to feng shui its sanc­tu­ary. Larch­mont Tem­ple is a Reform con­gre­ga­tion found­ed in 1948 that stands near Manor Park in a state­ly brick build­ing with broad white pil­lars that as a child I often felt were G‑d’s stur­dy open arms, wel­com­ing all inside and hold­ing up the roof as we sang the She­ma. I’m sure there were plen­ty of struc­tur­al rea­sons for the shift -– the sanc­tu­ary I’d grown up in was long and nar­row, sort of like a bowl­ing alley with the rab­bi and can­tor at two pul­pits sur­round­ing the ark. There were a few dozen rows of bench­es, but for High Hol­i­days they had to open the back doors and put out fold­ing chairs through the hall where we usu­al­ly had our oneg. Some­times a tele­vi­sion was even wheeled in to the peo­ple stuck in far cor­ners so they could see what they were miss­ing on the bima.

There could have been reli­gious rea­sons for the move too. There is an entire wall of exquis­ite stained glass that spells out many of the prayers and in the old set­ting; it was kind of just a back­drop, or real­ly side-drop. Which was fine with me because it gave me a beau­ti­ful place to wan­der when we were sup­posed to be lis­ten­ing to the ser­mon. But after the ren­o­va­tion, the ark stood in front of the side wall. Every­thing was moved into what I thought of as the cen­ter of the room. Even the spe­cial flick­er­ing lamp that was sup­posed to rep­re­sent the eter­nal flame. I always won­dered if it real­ly flick­ered when they rewired it. I felt bad for the elec­tri­cian in charge of that one.

What­ev­er the motive, it was done, and my moth­er was none too pleased about it. I had already grad­u­at­ed col­lege and set­tled in Chica­go at this time. Home for few days’ vis­it, she brought me over to take a look. Rab­bi Sirk­man was a good friend of ours, and hap­pi­ly showed us around.

That’s cool,” I offered, wan­der­ing towards the com­mem­o­ra­tion wall, where deceased con­gre­gants’ names were writ­ten above small ledges. There were peb­bles on the bot­tom so fam­i­ly mem­bers could place a mark­er as they said kad­dish.

Yeah, it’s nice,” Mom said. Then she sighed loud­ly, I don’t know, it’s just not the same.”

Sor­ry, Joan,” said the rabbi.

It was a pecu­liar sense of home­less­ness. The entrance even looked like it’d been tipped side­ways. The famil­iar clangs of the cof­fee urns being rinsed in the kitchen were replaced with a soft swish swish of vac­u­umed car­pet under our feet.

As we left, I felt bad for my mom, and also for myself. I knew that I was sup­posed to be an adult. I paid my rent on time, brushed my teeth and held down a job, but I was unpre­pared to find a house of wor­ship on my own. I thought that eter­nal lamp was fixed in G‑d’s indeli­ble scheme. How would I know where to find that kind of safe­ty and sta­bil­i­ty again?

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.