Thursday, September 27, 2012

High Holiday Survival

With Butch & Sundance:  Back in The Old Country (New Jersey), the High Holidays were a bit less of a challenge.

In the '80s and '90s, Abq Jew & mishpocha davened at Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen. We were perhaps 300 families in one extended sanctuary. We hired a hazzan for the occasion - and sang along with him as he led us all through the prayer service.

In the '00s, Abq Jew & mishpocha davened at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston. We were perhaps 900 families in multiple extended sanctuaries. If we didn't have an extra, we hired a Cantor for the occasion. But we in the "alternate (upstairs) service" got to keep our regular, every-Shabbat hazzanit - and sang along with her as she led us alternates through the prayer service.

Here we are in the '10s.  Abq Jew & mishpocha daven at Congregation B'nai Israel in Albuquerque. We are perhaps 273 families in (mostly) one beautiful, unextended sanctuary. We hired a Cantor for the occasion and accompanied him (for Kol Nidre) with piano, cello, and our Choir. Sing along? Not so much.

So, here is how Abq Jew really feels about the High Holidays:

You can keep them.

Wherever and whenever he observes the High Holidays, Abq Jew tends not to ask The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything (Answer: 42). Nor does he ask questions about the Space-Time Continuum (i.e. How soon can we get outta here?).

No, the question Abq Jew tends to ask is:

Who are those guys?


Wherever and whenever he observes the High Holidays, Abq Jew tends to see plenty of people he has never, or rarely, seen before. Part of this, he realizes, is the result of low-level faceblindness. But part of this is due to the tendency of many Jews to make Jewish observance a three-day-per-year event.

But Abq Jew doesn't mind this at all.

If you have built - in all senses of the term - the synagogue, you are entitled to use it. If you choose to only use it only for the High Holidays - well, that's your choice. Abq Jew will gladly give up his seat to you and thank you for providing the synagogue and the community he enjoys the other 362 days of the year. The trade-off is more than fair.

Of course, it does get kind of lonely for Sukkot - especially when the festival days fall on weekdays.  

Abq Jew's POV is: you are missing out on the most beautiful, natural Jewish holiday there is.

Again - that's your choice. But we miss you!

!חג סמח

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