Here are lots of thoughts that I have had over the past week.
It was much harder than I thought it would be this Rosh Hashana. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the things that would be different. There were things that I knew- I wouldn’t be with the same family as I usually am. I wouldn’t be going to the same shul as I usually go. I wouldn’t be in the same town as I usually go to.
But even with all that, there were so many times that I almost started to cry, knowing that what I had, there is a good chance that I might not ever have it again. That my days of davening in Alon Shvut at 5:30 in the morning are over. Not only this year am I in the US, but I know for sure that I will be here next year as well.
The people that I went to for all the holiday meals were very nice and welcoming. But the entire time I felt like I was a guest. I was an outsider that had to be taken care of. I didn’t know their rituals. I didn’t know their songs. I didn’t know the guests at their tables. I felt less at home than I almost ever have.
I was happy that I went to a nursing home for davening. I knew that it would have to be different because we are not based in a shul and things needed to be shortened so we are finished on time. I didn’t realize till then that I actually care about tunes- there were songs that I missed from davening, partially because we didn’t say them at all, or because the chazen didn’t sing them in that tune (or any tune for that matter). Which brings me to the next thing…
Women’s Roles in Jewish Communial Life
I know that I am supposed to feel this way, that perhaps at this point in time I should have an answer to my questions and issues. But…it really stinks to be a woman in Orthodoxy. I mean, getting to shul on Rosh Hashana, and not having a minyan for parts of davening- even if there were 9 men, or less and there were tons of women in the space- it would be as if we were not there.
The guy who davened shacharit- it sounded as if he never practiced the davenign before. But alas, I can’t be the one to correct him, because I can never lead.
As the intern, I spoke for about 3 minutes about the Torah reading and helped people find pages. They easily could have existed without my presence.
The question then needs to be asked, what is the purpose of doing what I am doing? Where am I going to be able to have the greatest effect? Where can I be and what can I be doing that will actually mean something?
After being in New York now for about 3 weeks, my time is almost up. I’m sure that I will sit and reflect on this fully soon.
It is not as horrible as I thought it would be. I have met some very nice people. I have also met people that I just don’t understand. People that have NEVER left New York. People who have a base salary expectation for their prospective spouse. Women who constantly have perfect hair and nails.
I have gone to shuls and stood there with no one to talk to, and no one else even noticing that there is someone that is new. The one place that I knew people was at an egalitarian simchat bat. It is very interesting where my social circle might actually be.
Thinking about Yom Kippur just makes me want to cry out. It is hard to think about not having pre-fast dinner with certain people. It is hard to think about not walking down emek refaim in the middle of the street and seeing everyone I know. It is hard to know that I will not have the opportunity again to stand on the bridge by the Begin center overlooking the Old City with no cars passing under.
But…I guess it is a new Year, and a time with lots of change. So many that is a good thing?