Counting 19 Friday stars

I’m splitting the title of a song here, because I thought that one of the lines is particularly salient for something that I wanted to reflect on last week. (And the “19” is not extraneous either, as we will found out shortly.)

Here is the song: “Counting Stars.” Feel free to listen to it while reading if you don’t get distracted in that way!


I previously wrote about the OneRepublic song, in how it was my “Winter Break 2013 anthem.” This time, however, I’d like to focus in on one of the lyrics:

“Old, but I’m not that old; young, but I’m not that bold…”

Last week, I went to ק”ק בני תקווה (Congregation B’nai Tikvah) in Deerfield for ערב שבת (Friday night) services for the first time. A reasonable set of people showed up, but what I noticed was that I was the youngest adult in the synagogue… or at least appeared to be the youngest. In fact, I think I was the youngest person in the service, as there were no teenagers or college students from what I could tell. (A few children popped up after services ended, however.)

I guess there’s nothing “bold” about going to services for me, which  might be part of the “young, but I’m not that bold” lyric. However, I’d like to focus on the “old, but I’m not that old” next.

The age distribution at בני תקווה did not seem to be unusual for a synagogue ערב שבת service. The word “synagogue” is emphasized there, as young Jewish people are not completely bereft of רוח בשביל ערב שבת (Friday night spirit). It’s just that there are alternative venues that they might take to get their davening in. Here are a few examples:

  • Northwestern Hillel. Obviously, the demographics at Hillel are much different than the demographics in a synagogue, but I profess that Hillel services really engaged me and encouraged me to continue my Jewish development, both socially, ritualistically, and personally. Each Friday night that I went to services there, I was almost invariably the OLDEST person in the room, since I was a graduate student and everyone else (usually) was a traditional undergraduate.
    (Additionally, the reason I added in the “19” was twofold: (a) Today is August 19, and (b) I had to remind everyone of Ni-Ni-Nineteen.)
    Nevertheless, despite being the oldest there, I was not THAT old, as I still feel very young. Hence, “Old, but I’m not THAT old!”
  • Windy City Minyan. It’s an independent minyan that meets once a month, and is almost exclusively 20s and 30s living in and around the Lakeview district of Chicago. I was an outlier in commuting from Evanston, but still felt to fit into the group. I was certainly not the oldest person there, nor was I the youngest (to the best of my knowledge). The fact that I was a commuter didn’t matter, as I have a proven track record of fitting in to many social situations.
  • Mishkan Chicago. The most eclectic Jewish community that I have been to, but this has made for some of the most engaging services and post-davening conversations. If you want to talk about spectra, just come to a Mishkan service, and you will run the gamut.

Additionally, there was Shabbat on the Lake two weeks ago, which was an annual JCC Chicago event targeted at 20s and 30s for a Shabbat experience on Lake Michigan (well, at a park alongside the lake. CLOSE ENOUGH!). Like Mishkan, many different ages, creeds, and minds were represented, and it was a wonderful time (albeit hot and sticky, but we don’t pick the weather!)

Regardless of where you are, however, you are only as old as you feel. Feel young and you will be young!


Day 1: 19 days.

NU/NU: 36 days.

High Holidays: 45 days.

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One thought on “Counting 19 Friday stars

  1. Noah, I agree feel young and you will be young is a wonderful mindset to have. It’s so easy to look at oneself in the mirror to see what age is doing, but it’s the heart and mind that invigorates us to seek new interests/hobbies; some of which are mental and so are physical. I try to think of myself as 18 with 36 years of experience because I surely don’t feel like I’m 54 and hopefully I don’t look it, either. lol Thank you for stopping by and for sharing the importance of worship. God is there for all no matter how young or how old you.


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