Friday, September 14, 2007

9/13 - 9/14/07 Rosh Hashanah

After the fun evening at the campout making matzah balls and soup for 150 people and the talent show late in the evening, the next morning was a push. Sarah felt terrible and really didn’t want to go to Rosh Hashanah services.

Because she is usually reluctant to go to synagogue, I overlooked her physical health and made her go. If she was well enough to hang with her Patrick Point friends hiking around in the dark, she was fit enough to go to services.

We arrived at the shul in Eureka and were about two hours into the service when Sarah decided that she was sick enough to forego both shul and the campout for that day. She experienced a swelling, almost to bursting, of emotion on the way home. She felt so badly she slept the afternoon away and slept soundly that night till 5:30 am. We read books together at dawn, both of us with our runny noses and coughing till it was time to get ready to head back to Eureka.

The second day’s services were fascinating. The experience was billed as a “contemplative service” and it was completely new for us. It started in a circle with introductions. The opening chant was led by the rabbi using a musical instrument like a mini piano with an accordion baffle while she sitting cross-legged on the bimah. Then there was 15 minutes of silent meditation. Apparently, I have not learned to sit quietly with an idea for two minutes, let alone fifteen. People stretched out on the floor, sat under their prayer shawls, sat yoga-like on cushions and meditated for 15 minutes. Then we learned a round that had sign language – our favorite part was the arm-waving motion for Hallelujah.

The group all went up on the bimah to make an alliyah and to watch a congregant read Torah. Then we discussed the portion and there was a great interpretation offered regarding the donkey Abraham saddled in the “Sacrifice of Isaac.” One scholar thinks that it is all the same donkey through the bible; another reference suggests that a donkey was the ten equivalent to an expensive car; we discussed Abraham trying to negotiate his way out of selecting Isaac… “but I have two sons.”

The service ended with announcements. They asked who wanted to take home flowers. Sarah offered to help the woman and was rewarded with a beautiful bouquet and lots of sunflowers.

We met the leader of the music – Marge Eiseman – who has the online radio station “Jewish Waves” from Baltimore. She is on a life journey too, having recently left her marriage following getting her twins off to college and the loss of her 12 yo a year and a half ago. She leaves her now 12 yo son behind with her husband, so her heart is still with him there. She is looking to find a way to support herself on-the-road. We agreed to meet up next week in Ashland.

Leaving the synagogue, we were all hungry and thirsty, but pleased with our morning of Jewish experience.

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