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Finding religion at a Green Day concert...



By Rabbi Rick Sherwin

In the moment

We tend to measure religiosity in quantitative terms: attending worship services, observing religious rituals, displaying faith symbols and art. I contend that being religious is not quantitative at all.

The word “religion” is derived from the Latin root “ligio” meaning to tie together or to connect (as in “ligament”). Being religious, therefore, includes a sense of connection: it might be to God, or to a community, or to life itself. I add one further connection, and that is a connection to a moment in time.

Davi had “warned” me that the Green Day rock concert would blow me away. I was skeptical: after all, I had seen the original Who and Rush! Davi was right: the music, the staging, the presentation was, to use the word of the Tampa Bay Times, epic. Billie Joe Armstrong informed the 15K attendees that this was not a night for politics, asking us to forget the world as it is and to think of the world as it should be: free of racism, free of sexism, free of homophobia, and with no threat of Nazis or their kind. The hallmark of Jewish religious values is exactly that: creating "world" as it should be.

The height of religious connectivity was Billie asking us to put down our phones: when you take photos or videos, you are not looking at what is happening, you are looking at your phone. Don’t worry about preserving for tomorrow memories of what you did not fully experience today.

All too often, we are so busy trying to capture the moment that we actually miss it. Perhaps the truest measure of being religious is the ability to connect with moments in life as they happen.

This week, Green Day put me in the moment. Yes, I did snap a few photos…


Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.



Inspiration, Rabbi Rick Sherwin


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