I need a Rosh Hashanah Re-do
I am not big on organized prayer. I like to think that I have a constant running dialog (ok, monologue) with God. I am always talking to him. I thank him for what I have, I pray for a good parking spot and I yell at Him when I feel His decisions have been wrong or unfair.
Yes, I yell at God. He hasn’t smote me down yet, so I think it’s ok. He hasn’t yelled back at me yet, so I believe it’s ok to question Him, so long as I don’t doubt His existence.
I don’t often go to shul. Our shul – well, I have some issues with it, but the primary issue for me is that unless you are sitting in the front row of the ladies’ section you cannot see what’s going on downstairs. I need that but am not getting to shul at 8.30 am on the one day a week I get to lie in, just to ensure I have a front row seat.
However, when it comes to Rosh Hashanah the prayers and liturgy mean so much more to me. It’s more than just mumbling the same words that everyone else is saying. It’s about tradition, it’s about remembering the haunting melodies of yesteryear that our chazzan used to sing in the shuls where I grew up. It’s a nod to the past, and a hope for the future. Rosh Hashanah davening fills me with memories – most warm and uplifting, some sad. This is how I feel on Rosh Hashanah, and how I have felt every year on Rosh Hashanah since I moved away from home over twenty years ago.
This year that did not happen. This year that was taken away from me. Our shul decided not to assign holiday seats for the women. Apparently the demand was more than there were seats available due to the crazy exponential growth of our membership, and instead of trying to work things out with the womenfolk, they just decided that it would be first come first served. I am sure that next year there will be a better plan in place – I know I am not the only one who has complained or will complain. I honestly don’t believe they realized how this decision would impact us.
Both days I got to shul in time for shofar blowing – I timed it that way because two hours in shul is more or less my limit. I have physical challenges that preclude me from standing and sitting in one place for too long. There was a smaller ladies’ section downstairs (completely surrounded with curtains) where I had been unofficially promised a seat, but of course when I got there all seats were taken and I am not the kind of person to turf someone out of a seat. The upstairs section was so packed that I stood on the stairs leading up to the women’s sanctuary, straining to hear the brachot for the shofar.
I also got to enjoy the sight of darling little toddlers running up and down the stairs while their moms tried to hush them, and I got to hear the stomp stomp stomp of their little feet running to and fro while I was trying to hear Tekiahs.
After the first 100 blasts – 20 minutes standing on stairs with noise all around me, straining to hear what was going on inside – I went home. Even if at that point someone in the front row would have given me a seat for the rest of the service I couldn’t have taken it. I was already suffering a pounding headache, and a backache from standing.
I’m sorry, God, that this year my Rosh Hashanah was more about bitching and whining about not having a seat, and not being able to daven the way I had wanted to daven. I am sorry, God, that my tears didn’t fall during Unetaneh Tokef, that I didn’t get goosebumps as the chazzan sang it, that I didn’t spend time really concentrating on my words…… I just didn’t feel it this year.
I feel cheated. I also feel like I don’t ever want to go back to shul. And that breaks my heart.