Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Early Rosh Hashana

While the Holy Days being on the first of Tishrei from year to year, I tend to think more in terms of my customary secular calendar which tells me which days I am supposed to work and which I can stay home.  Summer begins on Memorial Day, ends on Labor Day, irrespective of astronomical realities.  The Jewish holidays are therefore perceived as variable.  When they come in early September, they sneak up on you relatively unprepared.

In my commitment to myself to function as an observer, I approach the New Year with a measure of detachment.  There are five people I'd like to greet from afar, and probably will by Hoshana Rabba.  And I really do take some account of misdeeds that should not be repeated.  I have greatly enjoyed Rosh Hashana services at the Merion Tribute House, a synagogue offshoot while the fast of Yom Kippur gives me some measure of accomplishment.  Relented from my non-participant status and agreed to do Shabbat Shuva Haftarah which I've not done in a while.

These days have become something of quiet time for me.  Schedules are flexible for the most part, but not absent.  In another era, the early arrival of the Holy Days would have me scrambling to complete greeting cards but they have largely succumbed to easier electronic communication.  Fewer on the receiving end as well so less of a display to tack onto the walls of the sukkah.  While attendance at the Merion Tribute House has been well subscribed, Yom Kippur attendance at my home congregation has atrophied from year to year in proportion to the membership attrition.  It has its predictability and maybe some people are inspired in some way from the experience.  At other places Rosh Hashana displays the real character of the congregation with people trekking to the Rehoboth Beach Outlets for discounted designer finery and machers parading up to the Bimah for their Aliyot.  A place where everyone who's anyone comes to be seen.  For us it is more of a chore to get through, busy season for the clergy and a few volunteers, but it does not stand disproportionately to other events of the year.  Sukkot quickly takes over followed by shabbos each week.  Our Board has a discussion of the Holy Days were received each year but like macrophages, they have no memory and the same experience will get carried over to subsequent years.  So will my relatively ingrained misdeeds.

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