(2) A friend of mine recently linked to this this NY Times article on prayer which has one paragraph which, as she put it, "
Among the most innovative -- and controversial -- aspects of the Siddur soon to be released by San Francisco's main gay synagogue is a prayer for "unexpected intimacy." The new prayer is intended for meaningful encounters with strangers, including, according to some involved in the project, anonymous sexual relations.I have thoughts on the NYT prayer article, but I'm much more struck by the stranger-encounter prayer idea. My friend suggests that the question we ask (and not just about sexual ethics) shouldn't be about Right/Wrong but rather should be, "How can this activity reflect and deepen the presence of God in my life and the world?"
It is featured in the forthcoming Siddur created by Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, a 31-year-old synagogue in San Francisco affiliated with the Reform movement.
"In the dark, in a strange place, our father Jacob encountered a stranger with whom he grappled all night," the prayer begins, referring to the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. "He never knew the stranger's name, yet their encounter was a blessing, which turned Jacob into Israel and made him realize, I have seen God face-to-face."
The prayer, titled "Kavannah for Unexpected Intimacy," goes on to ask God -- "who created passion and wove it throughout creation" -- to permit the encounter to be a blessing "that allows us to both touch and see the Divine."
Ramer, who describes himself as "fiercely monogamous," stressed that the prayer was not intended solely for gays and lesbians. He also emphasized that it need not refer solely to encounters of a sexual nature, but to any exchange with a stranger that was deemed meaningful.
"Isn't this one of the things we're told the most, to honor strangers?" Ramer asked. "In an anonymous act, this is our chance to recognize the sacredness."