Studying X’s, O’s and the Torah

On a dark and cold morning last month, 19-year-old Aaron Liberman woke at his apartment and walked a block and a half to a two-story, redbrick synagogue in West Rogers Park, a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in northwest Chicago. Inside, he was met by the hum of worship and a smattering of older men ”” some in black hats, some wrapped in prayer shawls ”” seated at long tables, surrounded by shelves packed with books, Hebrew letters on their spines.

Liberman removed his jacket and unpacked his worn prayer book. He unfurled his tefillin, small boxes holding prayers printed on parchment, and bound them to his left arm and his forehead with black leather straps. Then he prayed.

During the service, a man walked over, politely interrupting Liberman’s meditation, asked how he was, and then, rather proudly, said: “We’re going to get tickets for one of your games. My kids, they are very excited.”

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