|No sea in Jerusalem for 'tashlich' so we made our own|
The big change for me this year was that DD was old enough to go to synagogue with me. We went to morning services on both days. She spent most of the time playing outside with the other children there who she knows already, but also managed to sit with me for a while and hear the shofar (ram's horn) blown and join in some of the singing.
I've promised her that we won't do anything this shabbat and the shabbat after in compensation for having to go out so much this holiday. She's a real homebody my daughter. What she doesn't know is that Yom Kippur falls in between the two weekends..... We'll do some of the services though not the whole day. This is still better than I've been able to do for the past eight years re going to synagogue. I hope we will also be able to visit the 'Yom Kippur club' which is a gathering of non-synagogue goers and their children at a friend's house.
Apart from the food with symbols, the synagogue services, a communal breakfast at the synagogue both days, my nephew joining us for the second night dinner, lunch at friends today, some playtime in the park, and about four chapters of Harry Potter (yes I read aloud about 100 pages but not all in one sitting), we did manage to instigate one new activity that I hope will become a family tradition.
There is a short ceremony called 'tashlich' which involves going to some flowing water - a stream, a river or the sea. In England we used to go to the brook in the park at the end of our road. It was never hard to find some flowing water in the UK. You put some bread in your pockets and then empty them into the water to symbolize getting rid of your sins and any bad stuff from the previous year. And obviously there are some verses to say to seal the deal. In England it's often part of a pleasant afternoon stroll after a heavy lunch. Just right.
In Jerusalem it's a nightmare. There are some trickles of natural water in obscure places but they involve a long walk and it was still over 30 degrees heat this year. You can imagine how hot it is when the holidays fall even earlier at the beginning of September. Most people here don't bother or they compromise with a man-made water feature or fountain (the garden hose?).
We did our tashlich on the first night after dinner. We sat on the balcony with a bottle of soap bubbles and blew away our sins and undesirable stuff. We took turns to name the items we wanted to blow away and blew the bubbles into the night, watching them pop and disappear. All very poetic and rather sweet.
We had a full Rosh Hashana and what I loved the most was that we had parts of it on our own. I don't mean we gave up on parts of it like we sometimes do on a Friday night and just go to bed after a cheese sandwich instead of a proper Shabbat meal. We did everything but without the pressure of having to find other families to be with to somehow 'make' the festival. We were a complete family of two celebrating the New Year. And we loved it.