Looking ahead to the High Holy Days

If this is August (or late July), then the High Holy Days are near! Every year I get calls and emails asking about where to go for the High Holy Days. Pretty soon you too will be thinking about this. What if you’re not affiliated, in an interfaith relationship and thinking of attending services – what should you consider?

First, let’s look at why a person might enjoy the holidays.

Once a year (for four services) my entire congregation gathers. The babies are in one room, the little ones get checked into classes with their teachers, the teens mill around the back of the hall, and the seniors tend to sit on the right side close to the front. I am filled with the excitement. I love seeing the little ones singing. My teenager and college student will be reconnecting with friends. I visit with the seniors for lots of hugs. My best friend is saving me a seat. There sits my beloved rabbi and my cantor with the voice of an angel. The familiar mournful tunes arise. I feel a shiver of expectation. The air is electric with love and a sense of reunion.

Now let’s look at why a person might NOT enjoy the holidays.

Once a year you gather with a bunch of strangers. Who are these people!?  I had to pay for this?  The music is foreign, people are all doing the same thing – but what is it? It’s a combination of chaos and uniformity. The service is so long. Why must I fast? I’m hungry. I don’t know anyone. When does this end? The Hebrew is alien; the English is appalling – what’s all this about death and sin? I thought Jews didn’t do that whole “sin” thing.

If you have never gone to services or when you did it was no fun, you need something different. You need to use this month to do a bit of shul shopping. Find a nice group of people, a friendly place, a rabbi that will look familiar. Maybe even go to a pre-holiday service to hear the music and get to know the tunes.

Don’t drop your non-Jewish partner in the deep end of the pool. Do a little pre-holiday planning and visiting. Need help? Give me a call.

High Holidays and Ramadan September
Rosh Hashanah will fall on the evening of September 12. That also marks the beginning of Ramadan. For Jewish – Muslim families it is time to sort out the options. Feel free to give me a call if you want to talk through any concerns.

Yom Kippur will begin at sundown on September 21, a Friday. This means that Yom Kippur will fall on Shabbat – all the extra passages will be read – that means a longer service. Keep that in mind when considering your non-Jewish partner.