Wow – the high holy days have passed. It is so hard to believe that it is already this time of the year.
This year, especially, there was so much preparation. Speeches to write, rooms to set up, papers to print- and then it is just over. I feel like this year there was an almost peak – and then it was all over.
It is amazing to having this type of job – but something I was thinking about during the chag, was how in many ways I will not necessarily have my davening desires filled. That none of my praying or being in services is for me anymore (although I do think that is problematic, and I need to figure out how to find myself in it).
There is the part that I will constantly have the role of helping others. This year (and also last year) it was my job to keep people on the right page. This year I had a page counter, and so instead of just being with my own thoughts, I had to be aware of the page we were on, and keep up with the page counter. As annoying as it was at times – in some ways it kept me awake during some of the more boring times, but it was really all worth it, when the amount of congregants came over to thank me, because they were actually able to follow along this year. It was nice to hear that something so small was able to help so many connect in ways they were not able to in the past.
The other is that of tunes and songs. I know this is the complaint so many people have when they join a new community – that the tunes they are used to aren’t sung. But it is true. There is something comforting to the tunes that I know. The tunes are what play in my head while getting ready for the holidays – and then they just aren’t there. But here was even a bit more frustrating, as for much of the davening there just weren’t any tunes at all. It was just read out loud really slowly. Or if there were tunes, no one else sang along, and so I felt a bit awkward singing too.
I don’t know where I will be next year. But I most likely will be in a community (hopefully), and the tune choices are not mine. The community will do whatever they have always done. And I am just there to speak or show pages or maybe make announcements. It doesn’t really matter what I want shul to sound like – unless I start my own community.
For the first time I stayed in Yizkor. I felt like I should, as I gave the Yizkor speech (which, I made an MP cry, so I guess that was good). It was not at all what I assumed it would be. I don’t know if it is only this shul, or if this is what happens in all shuls, but I found it really bland and boring. There wasn’t as much reflection time as I assumed there would be. The reading of the names was really choppy, and seemed drawn out. For a service that is supposed to be about remembrance, and a service that people come out to when they don’t go to anything else – I was surprised that this is all that it is.
I also sat alone this year. I really liked my seat. It was great for concentration. I just sat and davened, without any distractions. There was also something really nice about sitting next to the aron. Sitting right next to the Torahs. Being able to stare at the Torah as the ark was open. But at the same time, I was alone. I didn’t have someone sitting next to me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone to say hi to in the middle of shul. If I wanted to say hello to someone I had to make sure I got out of shul quickly, as none of the women were going to be able to see me otherwise. But that seems like a metaphor for what I am doing – there is always going to be something lonely and separate when being the rabbi. That at much as I want to be just a regular person in the community, I will never be if this is my role. People see me as an authority figure or someone with a different status.
Well, Yom Kippur is now over. Now is the time to get ready for Shabbat (two more speeches) and sukkot (doing nothing – but will prepare the rest/some of my upcoming classes). It is also hard to believe that I have only 6 weeks left in Australia. Oh how time flies…