Culture, Identity, Religion

High Holidays Sampler Plate Adventure–Intro

This series will be crossposted to The Reform Shuckle.
I don’t like Rosh Hashanah and I don’t like Yom Kipur. There are things I like about them–repentance (see Tshuvot!), shofars (see Where have all the shofarot gone? and Why I used a bullhorn last night) and pomegranates–but I have to admit that I’ve never been satisfied with either, no matter where I’ve been and no matter what my age.
So this year, I’m not going to go the same place twice during the season of repentance.
Sophomore and junior year of high school were the last two years I did the same thing twice for High Holidays–I went to the Reform synagogue I grew up at. Senior year of high school, I was in Israel. I spent  Rosh Hashanah that year at Kibbutz Lotan (see Shanah Tovah! Cleansing in the desert) and Yom Kipur at Beit Shmuel (see David sees Texans, still hates Yom Kipur, cries), with a brief YK morning stint at an Orthodox Italian synagogue. Freshman year of college I tried a Reconstructionist shul for RH (see I’m not a Reconstructionist, but I play one on Rosh Hashanah). And last year, I did RH and YK at my adopted congregation here in NJ, Chavurat Lamdeinu.
Though elements of each of these years of RH and YK have been fine, I’ve never been satisfied with the overall experience. Whether it has to do with where I go or with my willingness or unwillingness to repent remains to be seen.
I’ll begin tonight with Erev RH services at Chavurat Lamdeinu, my usual place of davening these days.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be at a Unitarian Church where a certain gospel music composer I happen to know will be helping to lead a service that will incorporate a number of gospel tunes. As far as I can tell, this service is not listed anywhere online. If you’re interested in going, it’s at All Souls Unitarian Church between on Lexington between 79th and 80th at 10:30 a.m. Let me know if you’re gonna bet there so I can we can say hi.
If the gospel crowd isn’t doing a tashlich thing, I’ll head over to the Brooklyn Bridge or something else equally iconic and do tashlich.
I don’t do two days of RH (see everything BZ has ever written, this series in particular.)

On Sunday, I’ll kick off my ten days of repentance by heading into Manhattan for The New Shul‘s “The House of Awe and Repentance Cafe“, part of their new senior rabbi‘s season of installation festivities. It promises to be an art installation involving a variety of media and exploring the concept of repentance. Or something. We’ll see.
For Kol Nidrei, I’ll try my hand at an online service by staying in to watch Jewish TV Network‘s live streaming KN service.
And, finally, for Yom Kipur day, I’ll skew more traditional than my norm for a change. As noted, I’ve skewed to the left before when I tried out the Reconstructionist shul, but I’ve never tried something more traditional than what I’m used to. To that end, I’ll be heading back in to Manhattan for Kehilat Hadar‘s traditional-egal take on YK. As one fellow refugee of the Reform mainstream recently told me, “I like Hadar for YK because that’s the one time in the year when I want to feel as frum as possible.” Yeah. We’ll see how I feel about that when I’m still standing around in services trying not listen to my stomach.
Expect posts throughout this season of renewal and repentance chronicling my High Holidays Sampler Plate Adventure.
Shanah tovah umetukah!

14 thoughts on “High Holidays Sampler Plate Adventure–Intro

  1. I don’t do two days of RH (see everything BZ has ever written, this series in particular.)
    Thanks for the shout-out! But that series doesn’t really discuss Rosh Hashanah, which is a completely separate issue from the other chagim.
    To that end, I’ll be heading back in to Manhattan for Kehilat Hadar’s traditional-egal take on YK.
    See you there!
    We’ll see how I feel about that when I’m still standing around in services trying not listen to my stomach.
    Hadar’s YK services may be more hours total than other services (because they start earlier in the morning and have a shorter break between services in the afternoon), but don’t worry, they end on time (down to the second!). So if you’re not planning to break the fast until after dark anyway, Hadar won’t keep you waiting any longer. Personally I find fasting much easier on YK than on, say, Tisha B’Av, because on YK I have something to keep me occupied all day. But it’s certainly common for people to take breaks when they feel like it during the day (I like to skip the martyrology).

  2. If you want to make sure to get the real Hadar Yom Kippur experience, DO NOT MISS the Avodah service. This will be during musaf, I estimate around 2 pm.

  3. Amit-
    Folding up the chairs, putting down towels, and turning the prayer space into something more resembling a mosque; full prostration; the sheliach tzibbur physically acting out the actions of the kohein gadol; dancing to Mar’eh Chohein (dancing! during Yom Kippur services!). (This may not be new to you, but probably is to most Americans.)

  4. So I actually peaced out for this portion of the day. I was a little overwhelmed already at that point in the day and I wasn’t sure I could deal with the lying on the ground. Luckily, there was dancing elsewhere in the service.

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