Thursday, August 26, 2010

Memories of High Holidays Past...

As the new Communications Chair for our synagogue, it is my duty to assemble the quarterly bulletin that goes out to shul members.

Of course, all the typical items go in: rabbi's message, mazel tovs and condolences, upcoming events, times and dates of the upcoming holidays, and any other important stuff.

I thought it might be nice for the members to contribute to this upcoming issue, and sent out a notice for members to submit memories they have of the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah) they experienced while growing up.

Unfortunately, there haven't been too many takers, but most of the memories already submitted  are associated with wearing new clothes, family togetherness at synagogue and at the meals, long, drawn-out services.

If I had sent out the call to you, what -- if any -- memories do you have from your distant past, or even not-too-distant past of marking/celebrating the High Holidays in your childhood or teenagehood?

Maybe I'll have more takers via the Internet.... :)

(I will share my memories perhaps in a separate post.)


OldLady Of The Hills said...

My Memories are probably very similar to all those you have already gotten....I cannot say there was anything quite special that ever happened. Sorry my dear.
But I LOVE your idea! I hope you DO get more response from your readers....!

Robin said...

It's a lovely idea. I remember visiting my relatives in Baltimore. My aunt would set up a bunch of tables in her downstairs den, and I would always be the first one sitting down and waiting for the fun to happen. I loved seeing my mother's sisters and brothers and their families. They would all laugh as they came downstairs and saw me sitting expectantly alone at the table proudly dressed in my holiday clothes.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

i can so see you in this role! offer to sit down and have coffee as you write (type?) these memories! no one would turn down a chance to chit chat with you!

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

pearl, i miss you! how did this project go? tell me something i don't know, lady! :)

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I just listed 20 memories and then blogger said it couldn't post my comment and they were gone!

torontopearl said...

Neil, I'm so sorry about that. Send them to me in an email, or try blogger again to post them here.

I had numerous memories, but I will note the ones put into our shul newsletter: memories for me, and a memory of my husband's.

Pearl Saban: My childhood shul was a shteibel in a rabbi’s home. When there was an overflow crowd on Rosh Hashanah, some women sat and prayed upstairs in the kitchen, where there was a trapdoor in the floor that opened up to the services below. We could easily follow the davening and hear the blowing of the shofar.

I especially remember the hard wooden chairs, and on Yom Kippur some of the women wearing white aprons over their dresses, and tichels on their heads. I always wore a new outfit and white, cotton gloves – very formal.

In those days my father still wore a silk tallis, and I recall going over to the men’s side, standing behind my father and playing with the cool, silky fringes, letting them slide through my fingers.

After Yom Kippur was over, and the shofar was blown, we women would go outside and wait for the men as they did Birkat HaLevana. At that young age, I couldn’t understand why my father was still davening and not hurrying home to eat! (back at home, we always broke our fast on a “glaisele tay” and piece of honey or sponge cake)

Ron Saban: One of the nicest Yom Tov memories that Pearl and I share took place at Torah v’Avodah, the “old man’s” shteibel where we davened. The members were mainly in their seventies, so we brought down the average age.

Our son Avi was about 6 months old, and on Erev Simchas Torah we took him to shul dressed in a white, plush velour sleeper. He was passed around among the men, and across the mechitzah to the women. Avi sat high on my shoulders as we danced in circles, and this happy baby brought a lot of smiles and joy to that room of elderly men and women that Simchas Torah.

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

I Remember -

I was chosen to be in a photo for a local newspaper when I was in Kindergarten. I'm wearing my father's kittel and dipping an apple slice in honey. Debbi Flaum is standing next to me with a doily on her head, lighting the candles.

My father kept that photo in his machzor and looked at it every year on Rosh HaShana (till in adolescent rebellion I took it out).

Discovering pomegranates and other fun fruits. Fruits that have become more common to me now - like mango - served as shehechiyanu fruits back in childhood.

The loopy tradionational tune for Hayom at the end of davening (ha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a - hayom...AMEN!)

The slow dai-dai-dai traditional high holiday nusach, the haunting and slow kadeishim.

The shofar blower having a hard time getting the sound out and tapping the mouth piece repeatedly while we all waited anxiously in complete silence.

My brother and I waking each other up if we started to doze on Rosh HaShanah afternoon because we learned that if you sleep on Rosh HaShanah day you'll have a sleepy year.

The Rabbi telling the story on Kol Nidrei night about a town on that night that feared the worst because someone had been killed and they knew the Jews would be blamed. The end of the story is that someone ran into that shul of old and said, "We don't have to worry - good news, it was a Jew who was killed."

The two older men (they had white hair - but probably weren't so old) (reminded me a bit of the two guys on the Muppet Show) who appeared every year on Yom Kippur. One of them would always finish Shmoneh Esrei way early and step outside for a while. My father made a point for me to shake their hands and wish them well, in addition to the guy (I think he was a plumber?) who was also a once a year-er who sat next to my dad.

Mel Taubman (what a kind, gregarious man)and others walking around with little blue bottles of smelling salts (what happened to smelling salts).

The cops parking in front of the shul for a while to keep an eye on us. One year we kids spoke with them and they were amazed that starting at 10 we were fasting all day. One of them teased me by breathing his onion roll breath in my face.

As a young kid, breaking the fast at lunch time and hanging out at the Riback home.

My dad having to pause on the way to and from Shul.

My mom hanging out in the classroom upstairs during the break along with many others. One of those regulars was a man who always wore a jacket that was too small and buttoned it.

Hanging out in the Cohen house during the break and Elliot commenting that in suits and sneakers we were like Woody Allen who went to the White House dressed in that combo.

Some people sharing crackers after the fast on the way out from shul.

Watching the Odd Couple after the fast while eating (between courses, in my room). It was the episode where Felix's son loses his frog.

The Birnbaum machzors.

My favorite page in the Birnbaum machzor, the back page which listed the English date for the first day of Rosh HaShanah and for Yom Kippur over the course of thirty five years. This was of interest to me because my dad's birthday is October 2 and mine is October 11.

torontopearl said...

Neil, so glad you shared those with us. Memories give us insight.

I have countless more that I could've written about the High Holidays, but sometimes less is more. Or maybe I'll post them in a separate post after Rosh Hashanah.

Happy & Healthy 5771 to all.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

*sigh* those are lovely and definitely separate-post-worthy! :)