Favorite time of year

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

This is my favorite time of year. As I write this we are getting the much needed rain we hoped for all summer. I am waiting now to see the verdant brightness of the grass, shrubs and trees shine forth. And soon enough we will celebrate the autumn colors that are the subject of numerous paintings and photographs.

Along with this time of year comes the High Holidays. We have renewal and forgiveness then thanksgiving and rejoicing. It is busy time but filled with hope and community. I am usually in a state of happy-tired during these Yom Tovim.

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I carry an oversized bag with me into the facilities. Right now I have added a High Holiday machzor, or prayer book. None of the individuals I know are able to attend services. A few of the facilities find someone to conduct a brief service and some residents call into a phone service that allows them to listen to a temple’s service. But for the majority, the sound of the shofar and the cantor’s voice is a pleasant memory.

Before taking leave from a visit, I ask if the individual would like to hear a few prayers. I usually start with Avenu Malkenu and finish by asking if we should recite the Kaddish in memory of their loved ones. For those who cannot recall the words, I gently suggest an “amen” or nod of the head would be as if he or she said the words him/herself. When saying the shema it is universally the one time I see all lips moving.

I am not musically inclined, and while embarrassed to admit this, I carry a plastic kid’s shofar. I promise you, even with the slightest sound I attempt, I get big smiles! Who doesn’t have wonderful memories of a “tekiah?”

This is my favorite time of year. Tekiah Gedolah!