Wednesday, October 22, 2008

High Holidays

So here's the thing about High Holidays in a suburban southern shul if you do not drive and are single: there just isn't much going on.

I should say that people in my new shul are absolutely lovely. They have welcomed me with open arms; many remember only too well what it meant to move here, and they are accustomed to deciphering the south to outsiders. I was immediately invited to meals-a pity I don't drive on Shabbat-and my personal information was filed away for possible shidduchim... some things never change LOL. Down here, affiliation rates are far higher than in the rest of the country, in line with the church-going general society, and the local Jews care about being Jewish, they maintain three shuls, a JCC, a day school, and kosher aisles in at least two supermarkets that sell everything from meat to wine.

Still: Most of the holidays clearly are not that meaningful for a lot of people. On Yom Kippur, the woman sitting next to me told me in detail about her breakfast ("I get a headache without my morning coffee"), the guy in front of me kept checking his phone messages (why bother?). Few go to shul when the holidays fall on week-days. We were maybe 25 on Simchat Torah and Sukkot, and 4 on Hoshanah Rabba (incl. the Rabbi and his wife), one of my favorite holidays. Even on Yom Kippur, shul emptied out way before Neilah [the last service of YK], certainly one of the more beauful and interesting prayers of the entire Jewish liturgy and I am still trying to figure out why people do not come back for Neilah instead of leaving early. The local Reform shul, on the other hand, chose an elegant if strange solution and simply ended Yom Kippur an hour early!

Because of my teaching schedule, I could not spend the holidays with my American family and was stuck here. So what did I do? I invited friends for Rosh Hashanah and cooked every comfort food I could think of: Chicken soup with kneidlach, zchug, round challot, hummus, all kinds of veggies and salads, meat balls, and I would have made more meat but I had not been coordinated enough to order it well in advance. Out of my seven guests, three did not come (some cancelling hours before the dinner, some not at all) but it was great fun when we finally started eating around 9:30. They all forgot to bring their contributions--wine or dessert--but thanks to Tali, we drank fantastic Israeli wine and had fruit for desert. Hmm, this was pretty much it. I went to a Chabbad Sukkot event and walked 3 miles to the sukkah of new friends who thought I was insane to walk. The other days, I hung out in shul and then went home. I am extremely well rested, have read a couple of books and I do not think I've slept this much in years.

Next year, thank goodness, will be different. I won't be new anymore and, hopefully, will be able to go away for at least Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot.


mother in israel said...

Did you see that I linked to you? You're famous now. . .
How many people in your new community don't drive on Shabbat?

Melissa said...

Reading your blog is so intersting to me. Everything that I am learning in Partners in Torah comes to life reading about it on your blog.

We have a Chabad in my town and I went for the Tashlich service. The Rabbi had me read from the Machzor (sp?). I loved being able to be a part of the service.

Thank you for stopping by Sunbonnet Cottage.


hominy said...

LOL, thanks! I was wondering how people found there way here... The rabbi's walking, and maybe one other person, and the family living across the street from the shul--but not for lack of trying! There's also a Chabad, about 3 miles from my home which I considered when I rented this place but what I didn't consider was that they meet some place else that's at a distance of about 5 miles and hence outside my range. I know this is not good in the long run but it was a great job. Read about your adventures, mother in israel, and hope you'll have your kids prepare for Shabbos!