Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Simchat Torah Rocks!!

Last night was my synagogue's celebration of Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah is a VERY festive holiday. It marks the finishing up of an entire year's reading of the Torah (the story of the Jews, begining with Genesis and ending with the death of Moses, and a litany of Jewish laws, including how to build a temple) and the beginning of the cyle anew. Jews gather at their synagogue, and there's singing and dancing, and children running around all over the place, and finally the "big finish" is the unscrolling of the Torah and the reminiscing of the stories that were told over the course of the year by way of daily Torah readings. The Torah is unscrolled only once in the entire year, and it's actually very exciting, not just for the kids but for everyone.

For the past seven years, I was a member of a conservative synagogue, not just "conservative" in its affiliation ("Conservative" refers to a particular sect of Judaism that adheres strictly to a great many Jewish traditions, but that doesn't go so far as "Orthodox" Judaism, which follows Jewish tradition to the letter, in general, including separating men from women during services), but conservative in its spirit and its dress code. This year, my family moved to a synagogue that belongs to the Reform movement. I had trepidations about this - the Hebrew education is far less complete. For example, my older son is reading Hebrew in third grade, while his friends at the Reform synagogue are just starting to learn the Hebrew alphabet. But I was also excited to worship in a place where a lot of the worship is in my own language, English, rather than in Hebrew, and where the prayers are chanted in what I consider to be a more melodic, less minor-key form (I have no idea why that is...it just IS).

I really enjoyed the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services, but the Simchat Torah service really drove it home for me: this is the place. I absolutely LOVE the vibe at Shaaray Tefila. It was pouring rain out last night, and the vast majority of the congregants wore jeans. That was a SHOCK for me, and a HAPPY one at that. Way back when I first joined Park Avenue Synagogue, I remember arriving to drop Brian off for nursery school in the middle of a Noreaster; I was wearing jeans and Timberlands and my hair was in a ponytail. To my dismay, all the other moms were well-dressed and well-coiffed. What was their secret? Car services. And in some cases, personal drivers. I am psyched that the people at Temple Shaaray Tefila let down their hair a bit more. I mean, who cares what you wear to temple as long as you get yourself there? In addition, TST has a much younger vibe than PAS. My favorite cantor there, Cantor Singer is at least 10 years younger than me, by the looks of him, and he plays a mean guitar, and my kids adore him.

Bottom line, it feels right there, and I am so glad we finally made our way there. Makes sense too given that it is a block away from my apartment.

Off to practice....with aching back and bags under my eyes (didn't get the kids to bed until 10 because of the festivities, which meant that I didn't get to bed, myself until after midnight....)



Neil said...

I was sent your way by the lovely "He's Dead Jim" -- and I'm glad I came today. Simchat Torah is my favorite Jewish holiday. It's a great release after the seriousness of the High Holidays.

By the way, if you have such nice indigo eyes (as it says in your "about me" -- why the black and white picture?

Anonymous said...


Are you trying to hit on Yoga Chickie?


Neil said...

Uh, sort of...

yoga chickie said...


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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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