ROSH HASHANAH in the HOLY LAND

As I reflect in this update, i am overcome with emotion. I have just celebrated Rosh HaShanah, the begining of the Jewish year in Jerusalem, and I am torn between wehre I am and wehre I want to be a year from now. I was struck by the amount of different feelings and emotions i had this year as i walked to my services, as iate with my new “family,” as I considered my actions and my deeds in the past few days. I was struck by the overwhelming yearning for love in my life, for companionship, and also for health and understanding for those whom I love. This year, i entered Rosh HaShanah feeling a bit scattered, unsettled, in a new place, far, far from home. I ended Rosh HaShanah feeling as thought I have found a place in this new environment, and I am sure I will slowly be able again to find my center.
Rosh HaShanah began this year with my new family. I went to my friend Jenn and Mat’s apartment for dinner on Friday night, along with about 15 other people. Jenn and Matt made an incredible, gourmet dinner, that fileld me up and left no room for any more food. I spent the night singing my heart out, finding a place for my heart to be happy and nejoying the company of my new “family.” As i have now spent three years away from home for the chaggim, i have become muh more dependant on my friends. These friends, many of whom I only met three weeks prior to the chaggim, have become a permanent family for me. I cannot imagine my life without them, they make me smile, laugh and love life. They have shown me what it is to be selfless, and what it is to welcome others into my life. For this, I am truly eternally grateful this Rosh HaShanah.
Another interesting event of this past Rosh HaShanah was walking the streets of Jerusalem. The streets were filled with many different sounds. Form the different services going on around town, and their various melodies, to the greeting of Shanah Tova to one another in the street. Even the bottles of Coke and Diet Coke are adorned with a greeting of Shanah Tova. It is definetly very different being in a place where the city shuts down, one can walk in the streets and feel safe. There was an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation that has enveloped the city and made for a warm, relaxed few days of prayer and growth with my friends.
This year, I also realized just how meaningful the Shofar is. First day was on Shabbat, and so, there was no Shofar blasts to awaken me to my world. I chose to Daven at Kedem, an independant, egalitarian minyan that resembles the Pico Egal minyan I am a part of in LA. It was wonderful to be a part of a minyan where everyone was serious abou ttheir davening and worked towards achieving a personal space of the utmost holiness. While this was moving, and enlightening, the lack of a sermon and a Shofar made for a very hard time finding something to really drive me. While it was nice to have services start at 8am, have kiddush at 11am and finish at 1pm, there was most for surely something missing. Second day, the Shofar blew me out of the water. I deaveneed at Morsehet Yisrael, a masorti (conservative) shul. While the services were much less meaningful than the day before, the blasts of the shofar awakened me and allowed me to fully enter into a personal space of renewal and growth this year. I found myself alarmed and captivated by the sounds of the shofar, it’s piercing blast, and the call to my senses. It was the moment i heard the first blast that goosebumps appeared on my arms, and my entire being was brought to the awareness that this year is special, this is the year for change. Now, I only hope that I am able to reach that special place.
And so, living in Israel, in Jerusalem for the begining of the year has proved to be quite the experience. I am here, emotionally and spiritually, and I am ready for what ever change might come my way! As my high school principal would say: “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!” “Make it a great year or not, the choice is yours!”
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