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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Growing up

Five years.

That’s how long I’ve been going to my synagogue. I started on Christmas Eve in 2004. A week later, at a Shabbat/New Year’s Eve service, my friend Judy and her recently bat mitzvahed daughter Rosie read from Torah and gave the d’var. I specifically remember Judy commenting during the d’var, that they didn’t expect Rosie’s second chance to chant Torah to come so soon after her bat mitzvah.

At Rosh Hashanah services when I saw Judy and her husband this year, they told me that they are now empty nesters. Rosie suddenly turned 18, graduated from high school and left for college. Then I looked around services and realized that the kids are growing up.

Any other time in my life where kids were growing up, I was one of them so I didn’t notice that we were growing up. Being a part of my synagogue, I’m suddenly aware of time passing. The young man who chanted haftorah was always tall, but now he has a baritone voice. Some of the boys that I taught storytelling to on a religious school retreat are now a foot taller, some of the girls, too.

It shows in other ways.

I recognize names on the yarzheit and kaddish lists, that I’ve been hearing for years on the Mi Sheberach prayer list. People I’ve never met, but I’ve become accustomed to praying for. The crew of women in their 90s and 100s seems to be shrinking as well.

I don’t know why it struck me so much this year. Perhaps because I’ve been sitting out services and had the experience of being a “twice a year” Jew this time. I skipped a lot of shabbat services and didn’t see people, didn’t see the kids growing, didn’t hear names move from the Mi Sheberach list to the Kaddish list.

I’m 32 now and was 27 when I started down this path. I’m no longer counting the number of new years that I’ve celebrated or the number of times I’ve fasted or the number of shabbat services I’ve missed or the number I’ve gone to.

I don’t have a great closing for this post, other than time is passing and suddenly I’m much more aware of it.

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