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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Waking up, post-Rosh Hashana
Rosh Hashana came to me this year as one of those holidays we often forget, like President’s Day. Oh, it’s President’s Day? What happens on President’s Day?
I didn’t prepare. I didn’t think long and hard about what I hoped for the New Year. I didn’t ask anyone for forgiveness. And I definitely didn’t make any Rosh Hashana plans. I let the holiday come to me like I would hope all things will come to me, easily.
I aimlessly trusted that my roommate Farrah knows what she is doing (and she does!) and so I went to the shul she started going to here in Brooklyn. I pretty much fell in love with the place, if not for any other reason than the decorative branches above the ark or their overly-joyed Rebbetzin. We prayed, we ate, we met friends, we heard the sound of the Shofar. It was a typical celebration, but somehow not.
Farrah was a trooper who stayed through most of the services, where I picked and chose which I wanted to take part in. This year I didn’t feel guilty for either not going to service or for not going to all of service, which burnt me out last year. This year I felt like the holiday came as a greeting card reminder that life is good, and to keep living it.
We had a Shabbat lunch Saturday at the apartment, which is an important Shabbat since it’s the first of the year. After a somewhat tense debate on ultra-religious communities and child abuse over quinoa salad and hummus, one of our guests ended the lunch reminding us to feel every day like it is the first day of the year. To let life come to us and catch it when it does.
At the end of all this, I decided the person I needed to forgive is myself, and the thing I need to work on most is letting go and humility (starting with an embarrassing confetti moment at shul where I practically blinded someone with blue plastic pieces). I do have to admit that this year Rosh Hashana felt effortless, but maybe by letting it be, I got more out of it. What if we let religious experiences happen to us?
Just a thought.