Peppermint Patty attends her first in-person service since the pandemic

Well, whether the title is strictly true depends both on what you consider a service and what you consider it means to “attend”. I’ve hosted in-person Sukkot and Passover services (seders) and last year I was a greeter for my temple’s High Holy Day services, but stood outside, because I wasn’t comfortable sitting in a room with hundreds of other people.

This year I trust my mask more than I did last year, and I greeted, and then attended the service indoors. Most people were bare-faced, but I saw a fair number of others wearing masks, and did not feel too out-of-place wearing one.

This might also have been the first time I wore my new prayer shawl to pray. I liked having it.

It was nice to be back. Both the Rosh Hashanah evening service and the early morning service were comfortably full – all the good seats, most of the nice seats, and a few of the folding chairs were taken. My synagogue has added staff. We are up to 5 rabbis and 2 cantors. The two cantors makes sense – our primary cantor had breast cancer, and was out for 3 months, and I’m sure someone decided that rather than get a temp to cover for her, it made more sense to have a built-in backup. So now we have a male cantor for the first time ever. (The first cantor the congregation had was a woman, and she retired a couple of years ago. She participated in the service, as well.) I’m reminded of all the reasons I prefer female cantors. But I have to admit, that the joy that radiated off the new guy’s face when he sang “shehechianu” made me forgive nearly everything.

I really like the new Reform prayerbooks. They are physically too large, but I like everything else about them. They are clear and have lots of interesting commentary, as well as “additional mediations” and such. They make it very easy to follow the service and understand its structure, and they also make it easy to explore other thoughts. For instance, this year I read some of the stuff in the preface about how the Rosh Hashanah liturgy traditionally focuses on women. (Hannah’s begging God for a child, but also the despair and relief of both Sarah and Hagar.)

The rabbi split up his sermon, but the theme was from Hillel:

If I am not for myself, who is for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

He talked both about the various social justice activities the temple organizes, and also the need for us to care for ourselves, and for the Jewish people. He said that Jews are only 2.4% of the US, but were the target of 55% of religiously-motivated hate crimes last year. (That’s slightly cherry picked, because of course there aren’t any “religiously motivated hate crimes” against Christians, at least, not to speak of. So I’m guessing that Muslims got most of the other 45%. Still, there’s been a huge increase in hate crimes against Jews, to the point where a lot of Jews report hiding that status in public and otherwise trying to avoid being targeted. He had stats on that, too.) So I guess the temple is joining some group that’s supposed to advocate for Jews or something. I suppose we’ll learn more at Yom Kippur.

But he also talked about the meals-on-wheel program we’ve been doing, and the work helping immigrants, etc.

Being a Reform congregation, we included the shofar service, even though today is the Sabbath. We had 3 different guys, each of whom brought a shofar. It was interesting to hear how different the different horns sounded. The last guy was the most impressive (he kept that final note for a LOOOOONG time) but his shofar didn’t have as nice a tone as the other two.

Anyway, it WAS nice to be back, and I’m looking forward to Yom Kippur.

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…um, not til 2023, really?

ok.

Well, happy new year!

You are referring to my avoiding large groups of people indoors? Yeah. I’d probably have gone to a bar mitzvah or something if it had come up (heck, I went to a wedding a couple weeks ago, but I don’t count a marriage performed by a minister of the Universal Life Church as a religious service) and I’ve been to a couple of big dance events, although the really large ones were masked. But last year was the first time the Temple was open for the high holidays, and it was just too many people for my comfort.

I’m thinking of restarting my religious tourism, though. There are a couple of local services I’d like to check out. I’d like to return to the local mosque, too. I really liked their service.

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You could come check out us atheists. Our next meeting is…well, never.

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I do other stuff with atheists, as it’s hard to find an atheist service. But actually, i have a friend who is a humanist {Strike}minister{/Strike} celebrant. He does funerals and baby namings and weddings that don’t have a religious component.

tl,dr version: shofar, so good!

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