On Erev Rosh Hashana the Yeshiva went to the Kotel for Selichot at midnight. The entire plaza was filled with people and was definitely a sight to see. The Sephardi minyanim were especially fascinating as they sang various responses and songs with one voice – as loud as they possibly could.
I had originally thought it would be a great experience, but was too overwhelmed by the sounds and sights to really get into it. There were too many people shouting for us to hear our Chazzan, and I didn’t feel as inspired as I thought I would be.
I had privately told a couple of people that I was a little worried about getting motivated for Davening on Rosh Hashana this year. Although you would think that having gone through such trials personally during the year that I would be especially charged, I actually found a lack of feeling as it approached.
We had gone through our own personal Yom HaDin (Day of Judgement) back in the months of April and May and have been so engulfed with Davening for health and recovery (which continues) that I felt almost drained by the time Rosh Hashana arrived. I’d been davening for a good result every day – not just Rosh Hashana, and felt that there was nothing left in my emotional tank. Plus, the enormity of what we have been through is still sifting down to us as we settle down.
Further complicating things for me was the lack of our oldest son Chaim by my side for the first time (he was in Yeshiva – 10 minutes away). Chaim has davened at my side on Chagim (Holidays) and most Shabbatot for the past ten years. With the next 3 siblings being girls, it will be another year or two before Mordechai is old enough to take Chaim’s place.
Chaim did join us (with 2 other guys from Yeshiva each meal) for two meals on Yom Tov, so we did get to see him. However, I definitely missed him in shul and I know Goldie missed him as well. I guess this is preparation for when he goes to college. *Sigh*
For the first day of Rosh Hashana I was definitely right about my davening. I tried to concentrate and immerse myself in the davening, but I just felt a little detached. Which is tough when davening starts at 7 AM and ends at 1:30 PM with no break (OK – so I came 20 minutes late – I was still there for hours).
I wrote an email to a couple of friends about the second day of Yom Tov. Here is an excerpt.
I sat in Shul on Friday during laining, and I watched one neighbor walk over to 2 other fellows in shul and make a comment to them and see their interaction and interpersonal reactions and I started to cry. No way around admitting it.…when I saw the easy comfort those fellows had with each other it really hit home for me how much I miss you. It is not easy to find friends with whom you can say anything or hear them say anything to you and know that they are OK with you. It is even harder to have friends with whom a 5 minute discussion becomes a "Oh my, I told the wife I was going to be home an hour and a half ago" and then still stay shmoozing on the for another 20 minutes anyway. So I started to cry because I simply missed my friends and the …. life I had with them. With all the different things that happened to us, even though we had the support and concern of our whole neighborhood, when it was 8:45 PM on a Friday night and everyone was asleep I had no one to talk to and tell them (about) the week ….. I had nobody I could say 2 words or maybe even just raise an eyebrow to in the middle of Lecha Dodi and have them KNOW exactly what joke I was making. It isn't often that we remember to tell our friends how much they mean and have meant to us, and I wanted to just tell you how much I miss being there with you. On a separate note, once the floodgates opened I was a basket case for the rest of shul and I might have to replace the pages from Unesaneh Tokef (Mussaf day two) in my machzor since they were totally covered in tears. So, thank you for that too. Thank you for …. breaking the ice for me and allowing me to channel some of my feelings into tefilla.
Even though things have begun to get better and better for us as we continue to adjust and settle in, sometimes I am reminded just how difficult this transition has been. To restart your whole life at 40 is not always the easiest thing in the world, no matter how happy the kids may be or how much better we have settled in as time passes.
I know I’ve said this before, but we still do (and hopefully always will) love and miss our many friends (and family) back in the USA. For us (as opposed to many olim from countries such as Russia or Ethiopia), Aliyah was not running away – it was running towards. So, I am not saying that I want to be in America or that we aren’t happy with where we are. Even so, just because we’re not looking to go back at this time doesn’t mean that I can’t miss the friends and life we left behind. I do.
Have a Gmar Chatima Tova!