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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashanah Memories and Prayers

  • What is Rosh Hashanah for you?
  • What are your favorite and first memories of Rosh Hashanah?
My very first memories of, what must have been, Rosh Hashanah were of being in a great big tent with my father. The tent was set up, according to my memory, in a parking lot in Windsor Park, the garden apartment complex just west of Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, New York, where we lived from the time I was an infant until the summer I was thirteen. I had to have been either two or three years old at the time. I remember that these were Jewish Prayers, and my father stood me on the folding chair. My guess is that I was stood on the chair to hear/see the shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah. 

In subsequent years, we went to the newly built Oakland Jewish Center, which was our synagogue until we moved to Great Neck. As I've always understood it, that tent was erected before there was a building by those who founded the shul. In the ten years or so we were members, it expanded a couple of times. In its heydays of the late 1950's and early 1960's it was popular and constantly growing. Later on the the membership began to decline, and it finally closed its doors the summer of 2013. The remaining members joined the Little Neck Jewish Center a few miles to the east. Davka, in the final years we were in Bayside, OJC had a tent in its parking lot for the "Junior Congregation" to pray in on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In those days, our Conservative shul did not permit driving on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. Also all members lived nearby, within walking distance. Besides the seating, mixed versus separate, there were hardly any differences between the Jewish observances in Conservative and Orthodox synagogues. 

I have strong memories of the shofar being blown. It used to be the dominant sound of Rosh Hashanah for me. But in recent years, I find the prayers, when we all sing/pray together to truly stand out in my mind. 

I've photographed from this very old Rosh Hashanah Machzor- Prayerbook 
Here in my local Shiloh shul, Noam Yonatan, Ramat Shmuel, most of us join in singing/praying loudly. There is no operatic-style chazan demanding his solitary stage. Men and women, sitting separately of course, pray rather vocally, which I love. 

We pray, beg, demand of Gd that we all be inscribed in the BOOK OF LIFE. Yes, there is shouting when we reach that line. We all know how unexpectedly death can Gd for bid come to those young and old. 

And as you can see, we pray in the plural. We pray for all the Jewish people, not just for ourselves and our loved ones. That is also something I truly treasure about Judaism, the plural in our prayers. 

May Gd accept our prayers and forgive our sins.

שנה טובה
גמר חתימה טובה

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