Saturday, October 08, 2011

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Yerushalayim

The High Holy Days have just ended and I am still on an emotional high from singing L’shana Ha’ba’ah B’Yerushalayim while sitting in shul IN Yerushalayim.  I’m not going to sugar –coat it –- it was not easy being away from my family and my beloved shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  There was no rabbi’s sermon here, which is a major component of inspiration for me on Rosh Hashanah and especially Yom Kippur.  But my pre-holiday tefillot at the Kotel were inspiring as well.  And I am so fortunate to have really wonderful friends here, many of whom davened at the same shul, so I didn’t feel quite so alone.
Mostly familiar tunes and some new ones – but the words are all the same.  And knowing that my family and friends across the ocean were singing the same tefillot made me feel very connected to them.

Rosh Hashanah was beautiful, although 3 days is hard no matter where you are!  I was so fortunate to get invited out for the meals by wonderful friends, many of whom feel like family.  Walking through the streets of Yerushalayim on the 1st night of Rosh Hashanah (I had a 55 minute walk home from the Meah Shearim area) was incredible.  The entire city is celebrating the start of a wonderful New Year.
I can’t even begin to explain how it felt when singing parts of the tefillot that mention Yerushalayim.  It was incredibly emotional for me to be here.  I kept thinking back to last Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when I sat in Queens, knowing that my dream of aliyah was going to be coming true in the coming year.  It seemed like such a short time ago.  What a year!
The buses wish everyone a Shana Tova before Rosh Hashanah
On Shabbat I went to the OU Center to hear the Shabbat Shuva drasha given Rabbi Weinreb, formerly of Shomrei Emunah, so I got my Baltimore fix!

In between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur they now say Chatima Tova :)

On Erev Yom Kippur I went to the Kotel for Shacharit.  The streets were already quieter than usual, with most shops closed and everyone preparing for the holy day.  As the sun began to set, the silence was overpowering.  Not one single car was on the street for the entire Yom Kippur.  Living near a very busy intersection, it’s never this quiet outside my window.  It was amazing.  The davening was very beautiful and inspiring.  And now I hear the sounds of sukkot being put up.  The decorations are already being sold on street corners throughout the city.  The holiday season is palpable here and it’s the most wonderful feeling.

Sukkah being put up at the Kotel

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