There is an expression that states that you really can't be a good Jew on a desert island. There is truth in this phrase, even if it's a bit unfair to castaways. The point is, being a Jew means being part of a community.
For too many of us in this "bowling alone" world of isolation — living in developments where no one knows his or her neighbors, and spending more time staring at a computer screen than speaking with live human beings — community is an alien phrase. We long for contact with each other, but can't find a way to do it.
The solution to this problem is, oddly enough, a place many of us will pay an annual visit to this week: a synagogue.
For many of us, synagogues are places we were dragged to as children, and to which we return only sporadically, when, for example, it came time to start dragging our own kids there. But they can be far more than that. Synagogues are the gateway to Jewish life. They are communities of faith, but also places where we can go to learn, think and be part of something far larger than ourselves.
What those who have rejected synagogue membership are missing is the sense of belonging that being part of a religious entity can offer. Rather than merely stick our heads inside them on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, what more of us need to do is to come back, and rediscover the wonderful rhythms and the joys of the Jewish calendar year.
Our synagogues — large and small — represent the oasis on the desert island of modern life, upon which we often find ourselves marooned. This year, rather than avoid them, avail yourself of their many virtues and find out how enlivening they really are.