I am writing this message soon after the end of the chag here in Jerusalem, although I realize that it is still Yom Tov back at home. As I look back at the last two days, Its hard to believe all of the incredible experiences i had, and the fact that I just began 5767 in Yerushalayim.
The first night of Rosh Hashanah began as all of nativ gathered to daven together at the fuchsberg centre. The tefillot were led by our assistant director, Nahum Binder (some of you may remember his Abba, Rabbi Rob Binder, who was an assistant Rabbi at Adath Israel!) who inspired us with his beautiful voice. This was followed by a very nice Rosh Hashanagh seudah, complete with a seder, including a number of foods, such as carrots, pomegranate, dates, and yes, fish heads galore(!) which are all considered good omens because of plays on their Hebrew names. This meal, our first Shabbat since switching caterers was quite tasty and I was already full by the end of the soup and appetizers!
The next morning, I woke up around seven, got a quick bite of cake and chocolate mile, and walked south to the neighbourhood of Baka and one of my favourite synagogues in Jerusalem, Kehillat Yedidya. I felt that the davening was extremely beautiful, and was very impressed by the amount of singing in which the entire congregation partcipated in, including some very catchy and well known tunes. Yedidya is a very unique and special synagogue, Modern Orthodox, yet very liberal in that the mechitza, a low curtain is split by the reader's table which straddles the two sides, and the Ark is equally in front of both sections. While the davening was only led by men, Women were seen prouly wearing Tallitot, carrying the Torah and opening the Ark! I found the service so inspirational and full of kavannah that I will definitely be returning, possibly for Yom Kippur. Afterwards I had lunch with a family friend (who grew up with my Abba in Connecticut) and lives across the street from the shul. It was very nice spending the afternoon with them, as well as with friends of theirs from the shul who had a guest my age spending the year in Israel with Young Judea. I took a nice Shabbat nap, and then returned to Yedidya for Mincha, a nice Shiur on the women (Sarah and Sisera's mother) connected to the Shofar and Maariv. Afterwards I walked over to the neighbourhood of Talpiot to have dinner with the Moshe family. I had a very fun time, and was intrigued by all of unique sefardic practices, especially their specil kiddush and version of the Rosh Hashanah seder, which included string beans, pumpkin and leeks. I spent the night there, since today I davened with many of my fellow nativers at the Masorti (conservative) congregation Moreshet Avraham in nearby East Talpiot.
The service at Moreshet Avraham was also very pleasant, being somewhere between the standard North American one and yesterday's. The shul had a very heimishe feel, and it was nice to see so many kids around. I ate lunxh at the home of the Friedgut family, whose children are members of Adath. It was a very lovely experience, with amazing company, good food, and a very pleasant way to celebrate the chag. After lunch we met back as a group and did a symbolic Tashlich and Mincha (which I had the great honour to lead). We then took the long but leisurely walk back to beit nativ and ended the chag.
Overall, despite missing everyone back at home, I had an absolutely amazing, spiritual and fun chag which I'm sure I will remember for years to come!
גמר חתימה טובה-G'mar Chatima Tova