This Rosh Hashana was a profound and unique few days for me, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect and recap them with you all. It was our first big holiday in our new community, and the first time either D or I have lived in a place with so many options and such a diverse spectrum of people with which to celebrate.
Of the four services over the two day chag (holiday) I prayed in four different minyanim (places of communal prayer). All of them I had prayed with before, none of them on a day like Rosh Hashana.
On the first night, I went to the big traditional synagogue in the area. They have a chazzan (cantor) with a fabulous voice and a great male choir so it was nice to get a bit of that vibe. Also, it happens to be where my best friend davens, so I got to spend a bit of time with her and her family on the holiday, for the first time since I moved to the city she lives in 5 years ago. That night, we had dinner with a bunch of new friends which was just a lovely way to start the year.
On the first day, I went to a small minyan that meets at the synagogue I went to for first night. (Well, that’s only half true, I started the morning at the minyan next door where we normally go and the rebbetzin had said I could go to because there is always room in the women’s section. However, there was a seating chart and I didn’t have a ticket and it made me nervous, so I left during the torah service and met D at the other minyan.) The visiting Rabbi gave a very inspiring talk about crying and how the most meaningful cry is that of coming home, and that he feels that is what the shofar is all about. That sort of the set the mood for every shofar blast I heard over the chag. We had a nice quiet lunch together, and then did some cooking for the dinner we were hosting.
On the second night, I unexpectedly got to pray with my normal minyan which I already know and love. I had been at Tashlich talking to some friends when we realized it was time to go, they assured me there had been less people present the night before and seating was not an issue. So I went off to pray without finishing what we needed to do for dinner. Lucky for me, the Rabbi gave a brief class between the afternoon and evening services, so I could scurry home and prep my fruits and veggies and change clothes. I made it back just as the evening service started and it was great – both to be able to make the most of my time and to pray in a space where I feel at home. Afterwards, we hosted a nice group of friends over for dinner and got to blend our old and new communities at one happy table.
On the second day, I went to the inaugural Rosh Hashana services of the lay minyan I have gotten involved with recently. It was a refreshing service and a nice change of pace. The services were short and to the point, but still filled with meaning and inspiration. My favorite part though was that rather than one long d’var torah (which I inevitably lose focus during), they had 5 people give short talks throughout the service, including me. Having so many people speak about so many different topics was a wonderfully refreshing alternative. Each drash was very different and reflected the variety of people involved in the minyan which makes it so special. Afterwards, we had a nice casual lunch with one of our favorite couples and their adorable daughter who never fails to make me smile.
Then we came home to finish getting ready for Shabbat! What a fabulous whirlwind three days it made! So many great friends to share meals with and inspiring words of Torah to be heard. Though I will say, it was lovely to sleep in today and even the fast isn’t so bad after the three days of celebratory meals. (That said, I am writing this on fasting brain, so I apologize for any of it which may not make so much sense.)