Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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I’m about to turn into a pumpkin soon. In less than 3 hours I will light candles symbolizing the start of a holiday, and that means unplugging. Correct, no phone for me. No email. No touching of electricity, no spending money, and no public transportation. For 73 hours. The last two days of Sukkot are about to start, with tonight being Shemini Atzeret, and tomorrow night Simchat Torah. Shabbat follows immediately after. There will be dancing and singing and eating and drinking, as this holiday period is known as zman simchateinu – the time of our happiness.
So I feel a little conflicted. On the one hand, I am dreading the third time this month where I can’t use my phone for 73 hours straight. I find myself saying, “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over so I can be a normal person again.” I wind up thinking about all the work I could be doing in that whole time and the events I have to miss as a result of it. And I feel really guilty about it. Because on the other hand, Simchat Torah is one of my favorite holidays. All the singing and dancing in the streets celebrating how fortunate we are to have the Torah….it’s amazing. And it’s a time when we have to be happy. After I post this, I know I’m going to try to get as much work as I can in before running last minute errands and making last minute phone calls. I’ll scramble to blow dry my hair and will get a little stressed out when trying to pick out an outfit for services tonight. But instead of focusing on how hard it is to be without constant contact with the world for 73 hours, I’m going to see this in a positive way. That I get to go to the best party of the year come Thursday night. I get to be joyful and nothing else.
My wish for everyone celebrating Simchat Torah tomorrow night (and for all people all over the world) is that the joy that we experience on this night should continue through the rest of the year. Amen.