The Jewish new year holy days have been lovely. This year's fast for Yom Kippur was particularly long because the holiday fell so early in September. We gathered for a quick dinner at 5 PM and headed off to synagogue at 6:15 or so to get good (i.e. comfy and not folding) seats. Services began at 7:15 and the fast ended at 8:15 the following day, so it was a bit longer than a 5 hour fast.
I enjoyed leading Yizkor, the memorial service. It's an honor and a pleasure to help people remember their loved ones who have died. I try hard to give enough emotionally so that I can connect with people's feelings, but not so much that my focus on my own losses distracts from my leading the prayers.
Ne'ilah, the closing service, is usually highly energetic at our synagogue. We've been together as a community for a long day, we've prayed together, sung together, and listened to words of wisdom from members and our rabbi. We conclude with a final blast from not one shofar but many shofarot. Anyone, of any age, who brought a shofar to the synagogue can stand up in front and try to hold the longest note. The noise defines cacophony, and the shofar blower holding the longest note this year was, as usual, my friend K. Man, can that man make his shofar sing!
The next day Rik and some friends built the sukkah, a shack resembling what our ancestors lived in while they were bringing in the crops. The harvest aspect is like Thanksgiving, and the decorating aspect is kind of like Christmas (evergreen boughs, lots of silly decorations, and lights). This year marks the 19th since Rik and I met during the Sukkot holiday. He says building the sukkah is a lot of work, but the finished product always makes him happy, because it reminds him of the day we met.