Friday, October 14, 2005

Why Was This Year Different?

The High Holidays packed a wallop this year – they affected me as never before. This was the first year that I really sensed the year boundary, letting go of past sins, conflicts, problems and finding a clean slate, ready for another year. I’m trying to figure out what made this difference.

The only preparation I had ever done in the past was that of attending numerous choir rehearsals. That also occurred this year. But several other things happened in addition. Forty days before Yom Kippur, I started receiving daily e-mail messages from our Temple website with readings on “I Am Jewish...” These served as a daily reminder of what was to come and sparked some interesting e-mail conversations, as well as conversations with David. I organized the mikveh visit with Liz, Jan, and Lynn. That was the first real cleansing and the beginning of a lasting bond among the four of us.

I decided to fast this year on Yom Kippur (as is the custom), for the first time. A week ahead I cut out caffeine, so I wouldn’t have a splitting headache in addition to an empty stomach. At the last minute I decided to eat breakfast so that I wouldn’t totally crash mid-day because I really like singing a lot of the afternoon music. I sipped a small bottle of water and was not in the least distracted by feeling hungry during the day.

David had a big role this year. He sang the Kiddush all by himself in front of 1200 people at the Erev Rosh Hashanah service. He was great and I was so proud of him. His first solo since his Bar Mitzvah!

We gave Rebecca one of our tickets since we really didn’t need them as choir members. She has been Jewish all her life, but never attended actual services, never heard the shofar blown. She took this on seriously, creating an interesting project whereby she wrote herself the letters she wished she could have received from people in her past where there were problems. She gradually wove them into “Brigid’s crosses” and finally created her own Tashlich service down by the river to float them away. She read the prayerbook ahead of services. Hindered by her lack of Hebrew knowledge, she valiantly tried to start the process of understanding the services and the prayers. She was actually blown away by experiencing the music and the community feeling that define Temple Micah. It was like watching a child open her first big birthday present.

Today I am exhausted from all the singing and praying of the High Holidays, but I have a sense that all is right in the world. I have atoned for my sins once again. My name is written in the book of life. I welcome 5766.

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