Fall Harvest Moon
This year I attended the first Rosh Hashanah service and both Yom Kippur services. More of the Hebrew has become familiar, at least the transliterations. More of the melodies and songs, too. There are still times when I feel awkward, out of place. At certain points, in certain prayers, for example, the congregation turns to face the east, takes a slight dip at the knee and bows. Not sure exactly what’s going on there. Not all men wear kippahs, a smattering of women do. Same with prayer shawls. Not wearing either one does not make me uncomfortable as it first did, but I’m still aware of it.
Especially at the High Holiday services there were many I did not know, since some Jews attend the High Holidays in a fashion like the Christmas and Easter alumi in Christian churches. 70% of Jews in the U.S. do not attend synagogues, but many come for certain liturgical high points, including Pesach and Purim.
Even so, there are now more people whom I know and in turn know me or Kate. That makes going to the synagogue a place to be seen, seen in the same way the Woolly Mammoths saw each other. We’re still new to most of the relationships, a year plus for the people we’ve come to know best like Marilyn and Irv, Tara, Rabbi Jamie, Leah, Elizabeth, Sally, Fran, Lisa, Anshel, Rich, Allan, Ron, Jamie and Steve, but they’re developing. I’ve learned to be patient with the evolution of friendships and close acquaintances, letting them grow in a natural way.
In the mussar vaad practice group, MVP, Marilyn asked me to present on kavod, or the midot (character or soul trait) of honor, dignity and respect. This is even more intimidating than presenting to the Thursday mussar group because this group includes Tara, Marilyn, Rabbi Jamie and Ron, a former script writer in Hollywood, very bright, but, at the same time, more fun because it’s a challenge. I’ve found an important component of staying vigorous emotionally, intellectually and physically at 70 is taking on challenges, much like a decision some years ago to test my self-perception as a bad language learner with Latin.
Showing up to the MVP, the Thursday mussar group, taking kabbalah and Hebrew, going to some services, attending holiday events, and working on the adult education committee are all moments when relationships can grow and I really enjoy working with these folks. Beth Evergreen was a great find for us.