The man was crying.
I didn't know him, and it seemed awkward to be sitting next to such an emotional stranger. He was a handsome guy in his 30s, with a successful, professional look, a well-tailored suit and a stylish haircut.
And it seemed a very public place to cry.
After all, we were in a crowded synagogue, on Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. A friend and I sat on the wooden pews in the beautiful sanctuary, filled to capacity on this important day, and settled in for the long service. As the rabbi spoke, I snuck a peek at the handsome stranger next to me. The man was listening intently, and he wept quietly, the broad shoulders of his Italian suit shaking. He caught me staring, and wiped his wet face.
I listened to the haunting, ancient music Jewish people have sung for thousands of years on Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement -- and thought about the man next to me. What had happened to him? What had brought this successful-looking man to sit and weep, all alone, in a synagogue in the middle of the afternoon?