L'Shana Tovah. We just celebrated our first Rosh Hashana in Idaho. One of my favorite times of the year, often a time of reflection, peace and family. I enjoy the food, friends and sense of community that the High Holy Days bring. I was naturally looking quite forward to experiencing this in our new environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the east coast. The weather is warmer, we are happier.
We dressed up as usual to attend services at the local synagogue. And it was... a bit disappointing. I expected the crowds of Jews that this occasion usually draws- Jews who are observant, not observant, or simply "cultural"- usually everyone usually manages to bring themselves together for a time where bonding with people whose origins and history unite them, making the High Holidays the glue that bonds even the most detached Jewish families together. It's the kind of thing we complain about having to sit through, but once the rabbi starts singing and the congregation comes alive, I think it brings about the sense of community that so many of us are lacking.
At least that's what I was expecting. What we found was that most of the children had gone to school that day, and most of the parents of young children were likely at work, business as usual, until perhaps sharing a meal that evening with friends. This is in fact the first year we have HAD to take our kids out of school to celebrate the Jewish Holidays, as in New York, there was a school holiday to facilitate observance. The social hall of the synagogue was only partially filled, the empty seats to me a reminder of the fact that so many Jews have perhaps lost that sense of community and belonging that goes along with living on the east coast.
My kids will have that, if it kills me. I am not particularly religious, and believe me, my husband would rather be tackling the 300 emails piled up at work than sitting in services. But we were there, we took the time out of our busy lives to slow down and think about what really matters in life: our children and each other. For this, I am grateful.
Happy New Year!