L'shana tova. Etc. etc.
I am not, obviously, in temple, reading responsively and getting ready to cast my sins into the waters of--um, the American River. I am at home, in my office, at my computer, feeling only marginally guilty.
This is the first year since I've been back in California (was it only 1996 that I moved back?) that I haven't done the whole bit at the High Holydays. The whole bit meaning: spent some time during the month before reading and thinking and doing whatever to prepare for the New Year; then spending erev Rosh Hoshanah as well as THE TWO days of the holiday in synagogue; then going to a body of water to cast my sins with other similarly-observant people. Most often this all included family or friends. Never D, who is anti-religion, although he does enjoy eating the apples and honey which we serve so as to ensure a sweet year.
The first years I was back in LA, I went with my niece et al to their Conservative synagogue. It was okay, except that since most of the service is in Hebrew, which somehow I never learned beyond the alphabet (aleph, bet, gimel, daled....), the depth of my comprehension was somewhat, shall we say, limited. When we moved into the city, my mother and I joined a Reform Temple, which just happens to be the one, I'm not name-dropping or anything, where Eddie Fisher and Liz Taylor were married. Truthfully, if you're a Jew in LA and go to synagogue on the High Holydays, you'll probably run into a movie star or two, because as you know we run Hollywood and we're everywhere and the Holydays brings us out of the woodwork like, well, like whatever.
For the past two years, since I've been in Sacramento, I've had to go to services alone. This is every bit as woeful as it sounds. The Holydays are the time when Jews come out in mass and it's a big homecoming, how ya doing, look what I'm up to now. Which is meaningless if you know no one at the synagogue. Also, and I know this sounds somewhat anti-Semitic, but I've never found Jews particularly welcoming in the same way that good Christian ladies know how to make a person feel at home. So the past two years, I've made the necessary arrangements, donned my High Holyday finery (traditionally one's new fall outfit, which then one can sweat in because it is so f...in' hot), and traipsed off to services by myself. Where I more or less remained alone, except for last year when I fell in with a couple of converts who remained at heart good Christian ladies and remember how to do the Welcome Wagon thing.
This year I couldn't do it. I could make all sorts of excuses but the reality is that I couldn't face going to synagogue alone. I'm just starting not to feel like that Grecian Formula commercial--"Rejected!"--and I don't want to be inscribed in the Book of Life this year as some nebbishy, woeful loser.
So I'm staying home, eating my apples and honey by myself and hoping that this year may be sweeter. For you, too.