Tuesday, September 28, 2010

High Holidays 5771 / 2010

Parking Available:  Yes, that's the first thing we noticed.  When my wife and I showed up on Rosh HaShanah morning, at around 9:45 - there were still plenty of open parking spaces in the Congregation Bnai Israel parking lot.  Coming from Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, New Jersey, we're just not used to that.

Part of it, I'm sure, is the size of the parking lot.  But the more important parts are the size of the congregation and the size of the communitiy.  There are just fewer Yidden in Albuquerque than there are in Livingston.

This doesn't make one community "better" than the other - at least, after you've achieved a certain critical mass.  It's just different, and it will take some getting used to.

There were more available parking spaces on Rosh HaShanah Day 2.  But that didn't surprise us - it's the same everywhere we've been. 

What did surprise us was how easily we found a parking space for Yom Kippur, (we showed up a minute before Kol Nidre) and then for Neilah.  Back in New Jersey, those were the times when the synagogue was packed.

But the food was good (more about ABQ kashrut later); the prayers themselves were warm, meaningful, heartfelt.  I had the opportunity to read Torah and Haftorah, and (hopefully) contribute to the overall gestalt.  Which is what the High Holidays are all about.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Arrived in Albuquerque!

Finally: My wife flew in from our former home in Livingston, New Jersey on Thursday, July 1st. My son, Henry our greyhound, and I arrived in the Land of Enchantment on Saturday, July 3rd, after driving 600 miles on I-40 straight through from Shawnee, Oklahoma.

We don't usually do this much travelling on Shabbat, but we considered this a case of near-pikuach nefesh; the three of us had been on the road for six days, and although we were still speaking to each other, we'd had just about enough. It was raining cats and dogs (you should forgive the expression) in Amarillo; we'd arrived there too early to check in to our hotel; and the call of home was just too powerful.

And besides, we'd left the narrow religious confines of the East to explore and grow in the open spaces of the West. Our new home in Albuquerque's Upper West Side is about a dozen miles from our new spiritual home, Congregation Bnai Israel. We're going to be driving to shul on Shabbat and Yontif; we should just get used to it.

Back in New Jersey, we would drive the less-than-one-mile to Temple Beth Shalom in the winter. That, too was a case of near-pikuach nefesh - the roads were just too dangerous to walk. We also drove in spring, fall, and summer. But sometimes we walked . . . like for Kol Nidre, when you couldn't find a parking place anyway.

And what of our daughter? She stayed with friends in New Jersey in July, visited us at her new New Mexico home in August, then flew back to Boston University. If you don't count Henry, we're empty-nesters!