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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Wow! So many things to say about….

I’ve got another challah rising in the oven. Why? After Sunday’s bakefest, you think I’d be done. But the challah I made for dinner tonight has been demolished. Last night a couple friends came over to nibble and then today after services, a lot of friends came over to nibble. And when I say nibble, I mean destroy the challah. There is one little bite left on the plate–so another is on the way.

So far, Rosh Hashanah is my favorite holiday. Maybe because at this point, I know people at my shul. I had a house full of friends after services. I had people to say “Shana Tovah” to and people to say it to me. In the last few weeks, I’ve gone from a regular to a member of my community. Being involved in community is huge, being able to have friends over on a holiday is huge. I didn’t feel like a sham today–at passover, I definitely felt like I was pretending–I’m not pretending anymore, I think I’m a jew.

Services were nice–not the pageantry I expected. I guess if you tell someone who grew up going (however so occasionally) to christian churches–if you say, “ANd the choir” I expect a choir. Not a quartet. I expect 40 people minumum in robes, on risers, swaying, singing, maybe even some clapping. I expect parades, incense, a candle in every hand. Pageantry from a christian background is totally different than in a jewish setting. When they said, “choir,” they meant a quartet of professional singers who may or may not be jewish, wearing their Sunday Best. Sometimes sitting, sometimes standing, miked, serious.

We used the same candles last night that we use for shabbat. Not at all like a christmas eve midnight mass with a candlelight service. The organ was plugged in–that was different. By pageantry, they meant “These two services, the cantor and the rabbi wear robes” like a pastor. But not fancy or terribly different. There is no processional or recessional, no dimming of the lights.

So there is definitely not as much pomp as I expected and I liked it that way. I surprised myself when I burst into tears at the end of the sermon, as we went into (I think) the Aleinu. It is a prayer we say every week, I don’t know what it means, but it was the only one today that we chanted the same way. So a bit of familiarity creeped into a new experience. It may have also had something to do with the Rabbi quoting the horse from the Velveteen Rabbit.

The sermon was, for me, the “best of” for the year. I have to get over the fact, that for a lot of people, this is the sermon they hear. For me–it is just one of many. There weren’t a lot of new things in the sermon, but it was as if he’d picked every great strand of thought from the year and braided them together. Yes, there were new things, but the themes are the themes we discuss every shabbat–and if you study with Rabbi Zedek, that you discuss in every class.

Which, at some level, is reassuring. You wouldn’t want to come to shul on Rosh Hashanah and find a stranger at the bimah. WHo is this Rabbi and what did he do with my Rabbi? What are these ideas he’s spouting? Nope–it was familiar territory. Something I like about judaism–it is becoming familiar territory.

Interesting, too, the thought that New Year’s Resolutions I might solidify over the next ten days are so different than ones in the past. A different energy to a religious new year. The secular new year was my second Shabbat and that people kept saying, “secular New Year” seemed wierd to me. Now I know why they say it, because this, Rosh Hashanah, is the religious new year and much more significant than the secular.

I’m going to take the last bit of challah to the lake and toss my sins away (to the seagulls).

Shana Tovah!

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