TIME

Watching people assemble for services on Rosh Hashana, I was struck anew by a powerful reality of houses of worship: They remain that rare place in American society where people of different ages sit together in common cause. Yes, people gather at a sports arena or concert, but that is to watch, not to participate. Besides, the baby in the stroller and the 93-year-old are not usually found at the same concert. In a world where community is increasingly difficult, and atomization is becoming the norm, Prayer is a moment of togetherness.

Sociologist Robert Putnam famously wrote about the shrinking of social capital more than a decade ago. Observing that bowling leagues declined as more and more people chose to bowl alone, he cast his eye about society and saw the fragmentation in almost every sphere of public life. Political parties are less attractive, social clubs and groups less cohesive…

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