When I think of sound and religion, I think of music. I think of singing a song, chanting a prayer, or even silence, words are never the first thing to come to mind because words are used everywhere, all the time, not just in religious events or services. However, religions are based in words; they are the sonic foundation beneath every belief system. The syntax that is used in prayers, the statements and professions of beliefs, the specific words chosen to expound Judaism are just as much sound as every song. Even though they are words that are used in different contexts every day, the intent behind the words is the foundation for every religion; their sound is the foundation for every belief system, and that thought was eye-opening for me.
“I think we can all be tone-deaf to how words resound within a community,” is a quote i heard when I attended Lunch with the Rabbi at Temple B’nai, a Jewish synagogue in Oklahoma City. Lunch with the Rabbi is an event that happens weekly at Temple B’nai; people come to discuss ethics, morals, the Torah, and the beliefs of Judaism with the Rabbi. When I attended, it was a small group; there were only about seven people there aside from the Rabbi and myself. The Rabbi came in with the question “What is a good person?”. Everyone began spouting off attributes that he or she thought made a good person and a discussion ensued. After a brief discussion, the Rabbi showed a Ted Talk by Dolly Chugh on letting go of being a good person. In the video, Chugh spoke about how we should all be okay with being a “good-ish” person rather than looking for perfection. After the video, the group discussed being “good-ish.”
This visit was a little less than a week after the shooting in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue, so the hate crime was omnipresent in everyone’s mind, and it came up in the discussion of what makes a good person. Everyone began sharing incidents of anti-Semitism or ignorance that they had come across and how much it all hurt. Some people shared feelings of anger, sadness, annoyance, and others had a mixture of them all. The conversation took a turn to how everyone can respond to those incidents and what we can do to prevent them which is when the opening quote was said. This quote stopped me in my tracks because there was a moment of clarity: these words are their sound, and it is how they express their religion.
By Kayleigh Wallace