Sigh. The holidays are over. It's a sigh of relief but also a sigh of sadness. It's hard when all the holidays come right after another but it's also really cool. My Yom Kippur was epic. I spent something like 14 hours in shul. On YK day, I woke up and just kind of sat in my room because I didn't know what to do. It's the one day where I don't have to eat breakfast, make coffee, put on make up, or do anything elaborate to get ready. I brushed my hair and teeth and put on my clothes. I was actually early to shul, for the first time and probably the last until next YK. As you have probably heard or figured out, most people can't be quiet during high holiday services. Most of them aren't regulars and are catching up with people or talking about people they haven't seen in a long time. In my opinion, this is the last thing one should be doing on YK but I'm probably just being a zealous convert. So, Yom Kippur is one of the four holidays on which we do the Yizkor service. Yizkor is about remembering family members, friends, and Jews in general who've died. It's kind of a yarzeit for everyone. Yizkor comes after the Torah service in the morning service and before the musaf service. Apparently everyone in my shul dislikes musaf service so after yizkor more than half the congregation left. But they acted like there wasn't a service going on and were just chattin' away! Oy vey, but what can we do? The clergy was clearly peeved but they know it happens every year. But I still prayed away.
Speaking of praying and spending 14 hours in shul, the rabbis and cantors were surprised by how much time I was spending there for the holidays, but now they know I'm serious sally. I have hardly seen other people from my conversion class at shul. Granted, I don't go every week. I only saw one guy for a little bit on Rosh HaShanah. He came and sat by me so he didn't have to be alone. But he just kind of left without saying goodbye after the Torah service. He told me he still hasn't decided if he wants to be Reform or Conservative, so I don't know if my clear comfort in Conservative services bothered him or freaked him out...? Anyways, I'm kind of seen as a regular now at my shul, which is cool. All the people in conversion class are supposed to get mentors for services, and seven weeks later, I still don't have one. My friends don't think I'm getting one either because the rabbi probably doesn't see it as a pressing need.... But I will always have questions. I want one! Anyways, Yom Kippur was epic and my soul grew, as it is supposed to. Got closer to G-d, to Judaism, and to myself.
Sukkot is great because it starts just a few days after Yom Kippur and it's a pretty chill holiday. You just sit in the sukkah. There are special Sukkot services but you don't have to go to them and have it be a huge thing like on Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur. You eat in the sukkah; you do homework in the sukkah; you shmooze in the sukkah. It's an all around great holiday.
Then, we cap it off with Simchat Torah! Simchat Torah is when we finish the Torah cycle and start all over. At the evening and morning service, there are seven hakafot, which means to dance and sing with the Torah. I didn't really know this but it's a drinking holiday. There was a liquor table at the back of the shul and every time people circled around the back during each hakafa, they were drinking and taking shots. It's kind of a free for all. This was my rabbi's highlight of the year because he is a huge goofball. This and Purim are probably his favorite holidays. Moral of the story: I really, really like Simchat Torah.
Clearly, I had a great holiday season, but now there is nothing until Chanukkah. Well tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh, but we don't get out of our Jewish studies classes for that so I don't consider it a real holiday.