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Not the Same

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Ten weeks.

In any other year, I would already be feeling the pressure.

Ten weeks.
Ten weeks until the start of the Jewish New Year.
Ten weeks to prepare pages and pages of liturgy.
Ten weeks to build stamina and vocal strength.
Ten weeks to craft sermons.

Each of the ten weeks with outlined tasks.
And with every passing week, an impending sense of responsilibity. Responsibility for creating a meaningful and introspective religious experience.
At times, a crushing, suffocating responsibility.

Everything starts to sound as if it is sermon-worthy.
Status updates.

That is how a rabbi views the world. At least, that has been my experience.

One hour of vocalizing. Daily. Minimum.
Talking through the sung liturgy until it feels familiar.
Singing through the sung liturgy. Again. And again.

Singing through the read liturgy in order to find each passage’s rhythm.
Talking through the read liturgy. Again. And again.

Selection of pulpit attire.
Sending tallis and robe to the dry-cleaners. (Outsourced to BossGiraffe)

Surprised? Surprised that there is a worldy, less-elevated aspect to my preparation? I would take special care with my appearance if visiting the Oval Office or Buckingham Palace. Kal v’chomer, would I do any less when coming into God’s Presence on the holiest of days?

The final thirty days include daily meditations.
Daily reflections.
Internal inspections.
Ritual immersion.

And then…in the blink of an eye…the Days of Awe.
Our annual opportunity to meet God on the way to ourselves.
Our annual opportunity to meet ourselves on the way to God.

Not this year.

How different summertide feels without the pulsating tempo to define it.
Its absence is palpable.

Should I feel relief?
Should I relish the calm?
Enjoy the languid cadences of these weeks?

Because I don’t yet feel those things.

I keep thinking that I am behind in my High Holy Day prep.
Like the nightmares dreams I have each year during these ten weeks.
That the Holy Days arrive…and I am woefully unprepared.

I keep wondering…
Will I feel Your Presence this year in the pews?

Remembe(RED) is a memoir meme. This week’s prompt was to write about a time that rhythm, or a lack thereof, played a role in your life. And don’t use the word “rhythm.” Well under the 600 word limit, an exploration of how I am acclimating to life off the pulpit. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 19 July 2011 8:02 am

    I loved this. Wow, is it really only ten weeks – that was my first thought? Sorry – I got wrapped up in the detail! I loved your perspective. I loved a WOMAN’s perspective. Sorry – again – I grew up old school. I don’t get to go to temple with my dad anymore (as I am not living back in NY, but even if I were it has changed to an Orthodox synagogue and so my mom does not go as my parents no longer sit together. Something is missing for me with that understanding. Something saddens me, as that is not how we grew up. I miss the high holidays so much. I miss the memories I have from being a small child. Even then, at a service where men were separated from women, but I was a young girl. And allowed to go sit and feel it all with my father. OK, I tangented. You’ve done well. And I love the Sephora reference. How beautiful you must be! With or without the stop to replenish your necessities, I am sure!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:36 pm

      You are so sweet 😉

      I don’t know about beautiful, but I do feel all aglow when I am standing before the open Ark, asking for God’s forgiveness and mercy.

  2. Galit Breen permalink
    Tuesday, 19 July 2011 7:04 pm

    I loved the way you used the prompt to share your right here and now.

    I really liked the short sentences- they worked so well here!

    And, last but not least, yes. I think that you will feel all of the importance and heart that you’ve felt before, simply because you’re you. 🙂

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:36 pm

      Thank you.

      Thank you.

      And thank you. (I especially hope that you are right about this…)

  3. Wednesday, 20 July 2011 4:31 am

    Yes, I think you will feel God’s Presence.
    in a new and different way.
    And it will be a blessing.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:37 pm

      Thanks, love.

      Maybe it’s the idea of it being different that frightens me.

  4. Wednesday, 20 July 2011 12:00 pm

    It amazes me how “rhythm” can refer to something as tiny and momentary as a woodpecker, or as durable and consuming as the yearly and seasonal rhythms of our lives.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:37 pm

      I agree. I really enjoyed reading the different takes on this prompt.

  5. Shellie permalink
    Thursday, 21 July 2011 9:17 pm

    I’m a big fan of your writing style. It makes me feel like I am inside your head for a few brief moments.

    This year, you will get to experience the high holidays with PC at your side, probably for the first time in ages (if ever). I know being away from your folks will be tough. I feel extremely fortunate to spend those days with my dad as I have done almost every year of my life. It would definitely feel different and a bit lonely without him there.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Saturday, 23 July 2011 10:40 pm


      I know that this might be an crazy thing to say, but I’ve never really missed sitting next to PC during the HHD. Prayer is, for me, such a personal and solitary activity — and yet, communal at the same time. I’m a really intense davenner and, understandably, I don’t think that PC enjoys my davening style…and that makes me feel self-conscious. Which is not good for prayer.

      I think, perhaps, that I need a mechitza….


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