October 6, 2014

A Busy Days of Awe this 5775

Posted in Judaism at 10:05 pm by chavalah

Just before High Holidays this year, I experienced a barrage of change in my life–from social to professional to health-related. Some of it was good change, some not so much.  I felt the push, more than ever, to set things right in the Days of Awe–to fortify the good and to make positive changes to the bad.

It had the desired effect, I think.  Things that burdened me on Rosh Hashanah felt lighter by Yom Kippur.  My week of reflection and change paved the way for me moving forward.

I love the High Holidays.  They speak to me most poignantly out of all of the holy days. I love being part of the crowd in synagogue–where it doesn’t matter as much how often you do or don’t attend throughout the rest of the year. (This year, I was honored to be asked by the gabbai to wrap the Torah during the mincha/afternoon service).  I love the liturgy about humility and renewal.  I love the feel of a good bagel settling in my stomach at the Yom Kippur break fast.

Yom Kippur brought some interesting, sensory associations between the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds as well.  At Kol Nidre, we were outside for part of the service, hidden by a tall fence and only seeing each other, but we could hear the noise of the city continuing to bustle outside as well.  The next day, I walked to the local library between services.  Rabbi Steinlauf had just given a sermon about Otherness to Kittel and Tallit-wearing fasting Jews; outside the non-Jews ate in restaurant windows and lounged in casual clothes in the library.  Was a strange juxtaposition, and a reminder about belonging to two worlds.  I have to find a better balance between these two parts of my identity–Jewish and secular.

If there’s any indication about what can be accomplished in a year, surely it exists through my niece, Grace.  Last Yom Kippur she wasn’t even born yet; by this one, she is babbling, mimicking hand motions, and attempting to walk, amongst other things.  More than anything else, perhaps, she is my light, my inspiration for all the goodness that is possible in life.  She teaches me every day, and I love her so much.

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