So I hope everyone had a lovely Rosh hashana and shabbat (for those who celebrate those holidays) and everyone else I hope you had a lovely end of your week :-) So for all the stressing a worrying I did about the holidays everything went well and I really had a great holiday. Throughout the past 3 days I had many I-need-to-blog-about-this moments, so I'm hoping that I remember all of them.
Wednesday night rosh hashana started. I spent all Wednesday running around and cooking stuff for hag. I had forgotten a few things at the grocery store so I had to go and MAN was it crowded. Someone made the observation, and I have to agree, it was like Y2k. Everyone was there and buying tons of stuff. I mean the were closed for 3 days, so everyone had to stock up.
Wednesday night I ended up at services at HUC. Originally I was going to go somewhere else, but then I just really wanted the company of my classmates/friends and I knew they would all be there. The holidays are a hard time to be away from home because they are the times when many people go home to their families. Throughout the weekend at certain parts of services I would hear my Cantor and Rabbi's voices in my head singing the prayers, because that is the way I heard them for most of the years of my life.
I had a lovely brisket dinner at a friends. mmm brisket. I've been thinking about getting a crock pot so I can make that, but buying it only for a year seems silly. hmm.
For both days of Rosh hashana I went to services at Kedem. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but Kedem is an independent, egalitarian, lay-lead minyan. They use traditional liturgy, but there is mixed seating and both women and men lead all parts of the service. I really really like it there. They have a lot of singing and a great prayer atmosphere. In some ways I like it better than shira hadasha, because while s.h. has great praying and I appreciate how much they involve women they are still not egalitarian. Kedem is. I also have developed a LOVE of wearing my tallit, so when I go to places where I don't feel comfortable wearing it it makes me sad, well not really, but I definitely miss it when I pray without it in the morning.
But yeah Kedem had some GREAT singing. I will definitely have rosh hashana melodies stuck in my head for a while. One of my favorite songs we did was called "keter melucha" I'd never heard it before, but everyone got really into it and there was clapping and just lost of ruach (spirit). It is stuck in my head now...
While I am talking about Kedem, I will mention I was blown away by the Torah chanting on the second day of rosh hashana. So traditionally the portion you read on the second day (although it is different in many reform congregations) is about the binding of Isaac. Very powerful/disturbing portion. At least for me...Anyways the woman chanting it did a great job of using the trope to give life/drama to what was happening in the portion. She sang beautifully, but not in a "I'm showing off" way. I got chills. Abraham is there and there is a fire burning, and Isaac asks him "uhh so I see the wood and the fire but where is the sacrifice?" and Abraham says "God will provide" and then he BINDS UP ISAAC. If Isaac believed his father's answer and convinced himself he wasn't going to be sacrificed fine, but then once Abraham bound him up it was obvious what Abraham's intentions were. I really sympathized with Isaac this time that I heard it, imagine how scary/devasting that must have been for Isaac. Everyone always talks about Abraham's test but darn Isaac totally had a hard if not harder time. His father was about to KILL him. whaaaa
Anyways Thursday was a nice day. I had lunch at a classmates house. He had a big barbeque which was fun. Also shoutout for the sesame noodles, they were friggin awesome.
Oooh oohh ok good story: So I had an Israel moment when I was walking back from lunch with a classmate. I live on a corner of this large intersection that basically joins 5 streets together. On one side of the intersection there is a fountain plaza thingy (here is a picture ). So as I walked past it I saw a HUGE crowd of religious looking Jews crowded around the fountain...and I was like uhh wtf?! I realized they were doing Tashlich.
So Tashlich is this service (?) that you need to do by a body of water. I'm not sure exactly what the laws are about what kind of water it has to be, but usually I have done it by a lake or river. Anyways there aren't really any lakes or rivers around Jerusalem, so all of these people came to this fountain to do tashlich. I went and got my machzor and did tashlich with them in front of the fountain. It was a cool experience, and it was really interesting how this random fountain became a religious space.
Thursday night we had a HUGE class dinner at HUC. It originally was going to be at someone's house but then it got wayyyy too big to fit everyone there, so it was moved to HUC. That was fun to have dinner with most of my classmates and some other visitors. I like that we can be together as a class and celebrate.
Friday night for services I ended up at the great synagogue. This is a HUGE synagogue that is practically across the street from me. It is a very orthodox synagogue so my friend and I got pretty dressed up/covered up for the occasion. I know it is not really my type of place but I thought it was important that I go check it out. It is a beautiful building and they have this awesome stained glass window in the sanctuary. I felt very limited there, I didn't want to sing very loudly because no one else in the woman's section was (I think because it is immodest to sing loudly and have the men hear your voice). The service was also super fast. The hazan (cantor) did have a lovely voice and the acoustics really did him justice. I'm glad I went, I probably won't go back, but yeah...if I had a choice between there or a Reform service in Israel I would totally go to the Reform service (see I don't hate them that much).
I had a shabbat dinner at my place which was super nice. I really like hosting, and I haven't done it that much this year, so I'm excited to continue that. Part of the reason I wanted to have a dinner was because I really wanted to sing zemirot (traditional songs that are sung on shabbat), so I figured if I had a dinner I could make people sing haha. I thought it was nice, we did a mix of traditional zemirot and other Jewey songs. I dunno I liked it, I'm all about singing. We also had fun-fetti cake which was amazing, mmm a taste of America.
For Saturday morning services (I know I prayed A LOT oy) I went to shira hadasha. It was actually a really nice service and there was a bat mitzvah! Even though shira hadasha is modern orthodox, women can still get called up to the torah. So she did, and she rocked it. When she was chanting all of her family and friends gathered around her to support her which was cute. Then we got to throw candy!! There is a custom of throwing candy at the bar/bat mitzvah child and also at other happy times like a wedding, the candy is thrown because you are wishing them sweetness in their future endeavors. We used to do this at my synagogue back in the day when I was like 6 and I remember loving it because all the little kids get to run and pick up the candy (so obviously when I was 6 I got tons of candy). We stopped, I don't know why, maybe because someone got hurt, but yeah that's lame, we should totally start it up again.
Then I had lunch with some friends from college who are here. It was fun to see them, and it was a little reminiscent of college because I made the salad I always made when I went to their place for dinner, and they made cholent. Yeah good times.
Then I came home and took and 3 hour nap, read some and then before I knew it I had made it through the 3 day chag. It was nice. I also still have a bunch of food because I was so worried about not having enough. So yay I don't have to cook dinner for the next few nights.
There is quite a traffic jam outside my window...ohhh the post shabbat traffic jam. I hear the symphony of car horns. But now after 2+ months it isn't so annoying, it is just something that I have come to appreciate/find funny. Just another thing that happens when people run on Jewish time.
Oh and tonight in Israel we change our clocks, so yay extra hour of sleep. I will only be 6 hours ahead of home now until America changes their clocks. weird.
lyla tov...and congrats if you got through this long post :-)