Saturday, September 27, 2014

The New Year....

It’s the Jewish New Year.  It happens every year about the same time.  When we were kids it was the time when our mothers would take us shopping to buy something special to wear to services. It was great to buy new clothes. Especially when, as part of the kiddie choir, we would stand on the bema and sing all the prayers Rabbi Krantz taught us.  In those days, Tina and I had to stand back to back because if we looked at one another we would laugh instead of sing. This back to back thing was silly because we could feel one another laughing and it was still hard to get through a prayer.  But the Congregation was small, mostly family, and they knew what was going to happen when the Rabbi pointed to us to begin the prayer. 

We didn’t quite understand the concept of “this was the week to be particularly well bhaved because this was the time God decided if we would get written into the book of life for another year.”  No, this was the week we got out of school, went to the temple, cut out as soon as we could, and get into some kind of trouble. One year we stole the keys to my Uncle Charlie’s car and, while the parents were in temple, we drove his car up and down the driveway – eventually driving it into the house.  We were nine.

Over the years our behavior became more sophisticated and instead of driving we would hitchhike to wherever … because we never knew where we wanted to go.  Oh the good old days.  If my kids ever did the things we did I would, as my mother said, “beat them to a pulp”. We weren’t afraid, probably because we had no idea about pulp – the idea of orange juice with or without pulp was still years away.

Flash forward to our lives as Jews for thirty years in DC.  We couldn’t find  a service that we liked, or wasn’t too expensive or with whom we could relate. So for years we went to Georgetown U, and we prayed with the students. We weren’t crazy about the Rabbi. Then someone said we should look into Fabrangen. It was a congregant directed service where they did things like pass the Torah from Congregant to Congrgant.  There were lots of li li li’s and boy boy boy’s, and it felt like home.  We even took Mom and Aunt Irene and they loved it. Mostly we loved the Yiskah service, which was always about real people losses. 

When we moved to Newburgh we went to Services at Agudas Achim and it was fine. The Rabbi is wonderful. And we were surrounded with famly—which is great. But most of the time we look for services on line. Because it’s much more personal for us.  Until today.  Today I went to services at the Westchester Reformed Temple.  I went because a Team Gefilte actor’s husband is the Rabbi. And our adorable Kelly McCormick is the Rabbitzen. There has never been a more adorable Rabbitzen, or a Rabbi with a God given voice.  All I can say is that between the Cantor, the Rabbi, and Kelly it was like being at a New Year Broadway show.  And it was a joy to be surrounded by people who wanted to be right where they were. The tunes to the prayers were unfamiliar, but I recognized all the prayers Tina and I memorized and stood back to back to sing.  The service too me to a place I haven’t been for 50 years—maybe more. 

For many of us there were things beyond new clothes that were special. All my Aunts and Uncles and Cousins sharing in the joy of one more year was something that still makes me smile. And yes, they were all there with me today, singing, and laughing and wondering why we hadn’t found a service like this years ago.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

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