Getting into a High Holy Day State of Mind

September 28, 2011

Rush, rush, rush. Husband has a new job. I have a new job. Our toddler goes to day-care three instead of two days a week. To top it all off, the High Holy Days are upon us.

I’m trying, really, really trying to get into a High Holy Day state of mind.

Rosh Hashanah was not an automatic day off at either mine or my husband’s workplaces. He began his new job less than two weeks ago. I started mine, a part-time teaching gig, three weeks ago. To ask or not to ask? We asked and received the day off. A colleague offered to teach my class. My husband used one of his personal days. Problem solved. But how to then bring the spirit of the High Holy Days into our still frenetic lives? Maybe the answer is to just let it happen.

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Jewish High Holy Days Through Tot’s Eyes

We gave our 2 ½-year-old assorted glimpses of the High Holy Days this year. If he could describe the experience, here’s what he might say:

Rosh Hashanah: I help Mommy sprinkle crushed corn flakes and cinnamon on something called koo-gel. At dinner, we eat challah/Shabbat bread that’s round instead of oval. We dip apples in gooey stuff. Mommy rushes out the door to sing at temple.

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Sermon, Song Erase Politics from Israel for a Moment

It was a moment of awe, a moment I will never forget. It was a moment about Israel, not about the political tumult that often divides Jews, but about love for a country – and community.

On Erev Rosh Roshanah, the associate rabbi at our temple gave a sermon about the need for us – no matter where we stand politically – to find a way to connect to Israel. Maybe, she suggested, we could connect to its food, its culture, music, or dance. As the sermon ended, the cantor walked to the bimah. The pianist began to play, and the cantor began singing “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold) by the late Israeli singer Naomi Shemer. The cantor, her voice clear, confident, yet also gentle, sang the first verse in Hebrew. Unprompted, the congregation joined her on the refrain. Perhaps 1,000 voices filled the sanctuary with song.

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