Wow! Rosh Hashanah in the USA! As an Israeli, I can honestly say that you can’t understand how different the last three days were from all I know: the services, the customs, the people and the food. There is only one thing I can say for sure - If you’re a Jew, you will need a diet after the holiday…
During the holiday, I enjoyed the company of many nice people who were kind enough to invite me to their homes and celebrate the New Year with me. It was wonderful.
For the first time in my life, I participated in a real Rosh Hashanah dinner! Now, you’re probably all thinking right now, “poor girl, her family doesn’t eat at Rosh Hashanah.” Don’t worry - my family never forgets to eat. What I mean is that it was the first time that I was at Rosh Hashanah dinner in which we did everything, all the blessings, by the book. From the apples to the beet, we blessed them all.
The following day I took an active part in services. In Israel most of the shuls are orthodox which means that the first time that I ever took a part in a real service was here in St.Paul. It’s a feeling which I will try to share with you: standing in front of so many people and having the honor to read as the Israeli Shlicha in a shul. It was a mix of excitement, honor and many more emotions. Many thoughts went through my mind during the services that day about the Jewish communities celebrating these wonderful holidays all around the world. Each community has its unique way of celebrating with its own traditions and I wondered: where is the place of Israel in all of it? While I was thinking about this question the services were about to end and we got to the last page (the one you’re not sure is ever coming after a few long hours).
Hatikva, the Israeli anthem, was written there and I couldn’t help but smile as I sang all the words loud and clear (I might admit here to being a little emotional and having tears in my eyes ), and then I also knew the answer to my question.
As Jews, we celebrate the Jewish holidays all around the globe, proud to be part of this wonderful Jewish world which brings us thousands of years of history, culture and religion. No matter where we are - from London to the USA, on holidays, on Shabbat, on those special days, we are all being reminded that we belong to the same family. And Israel? Israel is the heart of this family. Every Jew around the world thinks with a smile of this special place which G-d gave to Abraham and which is the home of more than 14 million Jews. Some of them are the citizens of Israel, and most of them carry Israel in their hearts. And that connection is my conclusion for the beginning of this wonderful year.
I wish us all a happy year, full of good things, peace and fulfillment.
It’s the fourth year that we celebrate the holidays without one of our Israeli soldiers - Gilad Shalit. I wish that Gilad will come back home soon.
St. Paul Community Shlicha (Israeli Emissary)