Prayer was serious, an intense outpouring of the soul. This singing and dancing was like a party, frivolous, so I was pretty certain it couldn't be prayer. But what did I know, because I had never really prayed; I tried, every Yom Kippur when I read the thousands of archaic words and waited for transcendence, but all I felt was hungry. I assumed most of the people around me were faking it as well, except perhaps the old men. The rabbi, in any case, made sure we got through all the necessary paragraphs, so I figured my spiritual rent was covered for the year. I knew that prayer was supposed to bring you to a higher place, and was equally certain I had never stepped on the elevator.
But observing this small river of motion and sound, so unlike my experiences of dutiful mumbling, shook my blood just like on the three occasions when I sung the Bach Mass in B Minor, and I could feel myself climbing up the labrynthine music. We reached the top during the Credo, which had more jazz and breeze and crashing waves in it than anything I had ever heard, and I understood something new. I didn't know what, but I was more alive at the end of the piece than at the beginning. I wanted to stay there, but instead got dizzy, maybe from three hours of improper breathing. Then I heard the applause and fell back to the stage, wanting to do it over again, to return and explore further, despite my exhaustion.