I love this time of year; Fall setting in, the ending of one year and the beginning of another. It never hurts to reflect on the past year and make a resolve to be the best person you can be moving forward. Although Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have record synagogue attendances, personally, we’ve been a bit different in how we observe the High Holidays year-to-year.
Last year we traveled to Europe for our “babymoon.” It was our last hoorah as a couple before the little bambino arrived, AND my husband Matt had to work in Switzerland for 5 days, so why not combine the two! We were in Scotland for Rosh Hashanah, and before enjoying a nice Middle Eastern dish (I’m a quarter Sephardic), we said a few prayers welcoming in the New Year. For dessert we devoured a honey soaked baklava. It was more symbolic and less spiritual. I have to admit, I did feel a little guilty for not observing the day fully, especially around family and friends.
For Yom Kippur we were in Zurich, Switzerland. There’s a very large synagogue we took a picture of (it probably looked a bit creepy to bystanders). I desperately wanted to go up to the families walking into the synagogue to ask if we could join for the day. But we didn’t plan ahead and we don’t speak German… while I’m positive it would have been an amazing experience, there was still a lot of Zurich to see. To break the fast (obviously no fasting for pregnant women), we enjoyed vegetables and cheese fondue. AMAZING. We spent the meal discussing how the following year for the Jewish holidays, we would actually make more of an effort to connect to a synagogue or spend it with family/friends.
A year later, and with our son Solomon’s arrival, we have been more thoughtful in the way we observe and celebrate Jewish holidays. Because of online resources such as JewishBoston.com, and URJ Reform Jewish Outreach Boston, we found out about local reform congregations and various synagogues that were offering family services.
Rosh Hashanah services were really nice! Solomon, only 8 months old, was clapping along to the tunes and kept crawling up to the Rabbi’s white gown to tug on it. After services we went apple picking up in Ipswich. With the apples we picked, we made a delicious Rosh Hashanah meal.
For Yom Kippur we went to two Reform synagogues: Temple Israel’s Rainbow service for families (Rainbow tickets are free) in the a.m. In the afternoon we ventured back home to the Melrose/Malden area and joined Temple Tifereth Israel for their family service. The two services were different experiences, but both amazing; one welcoming with many young families and the other similarly welcoming but much more intimate. We didn’t do anything special for break fast, but next year I’m sure we’ll make more of an effort.
We certainly tried to be more connected Jewishly this year; we just need to plan ahead a little better. That’s one of our ‘resolutions’. The past two years High Holiday celebrations have been fun and spontaneous; however, next year we would like to have it all planned out in advance. At least we know what we're doing for Sukkot (more on that later)!
If you are an interfaith couple or an individual exploring Judaism and the Jewish community, please check out URJ Reform Jewish Outreach Boston’s upcoming classes at http://www.reformjudaismboston.org/ .