I am already thinking about the high holidays.
How in the world will we maintain a 6-foot safe zone? What will dinner with my family look like? Remember the Pesach seder challenge? Yes, I hear you all and see you all shaking your heads with some exaggerated fervor.
Oy Vey is all I can say — publicly.
So, instead of worrying what will be, (as we are all singing “whatever will be, will be”) I decided to close my eyes and remember the “good ol’ days.” Lo and behold I feel myself smiling, feeling so happy in this remembering state.
Remember those brightly colored tickets with the year printed on them, indicating you paid your way into shul for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays? We kids actually wondered: What does G-d do with all that money?
Our parents did not think this was an appropriate question; most gave each other the ‘knowing’ look while pronouncing us mishuganeh kinder (crazy children).
I miss the high holiday tickets. I miss the competition between all us kids. It was so much fun, much like a scavenger hunt. I miss how the men, who were sitting downstairs, would help us find tickets for the competition, putting the tickets in our hands as if each was as precious as gold, thus showing us the way to a cheating heart. They always smiled at the fun we were having and blessed us with words like zisheh kinder (sweet children).
The women, sitting upstairs, had absolutely no patience for us. Their favorite response when we asked for their ticket was, tsk tsk tsk, zei shtil (be quiet) or gay aveck (go away) or vu iz dien mameh (where is your mother?). Some did not have a verbal response. Rather they had the mother’s eye response – a death look for sure. This look came in and still comes in very handy as we became moms ourselves. We scurried away very quickly when we would get the evil eye. If you’ve never tried it – please do – it works every time.
I miss my beautiful Mary Jane shoes, my new holiday outfits and fancy socks. I miss everyone getting dressed up to the nines, looking so happy, so rich.
I miss seeing people, my people, walk with their families, holding hands, heads up with the pride we all felt in our hearts. The pride our elders passed on to us kids.
I miss watching the men gently kissing their tallit, then lovingly saying the prayer required before covering their new suits with the tallit. All the men had such fancy looking hats. Funny, I can’t recall the kippot I am certain they wore under their hats, for safe keeping I suppose.
When I got old enough, I remember me and my friends meeting up outside shul. We would argue where we should take our yom tov walk this year, always walking arm in arm, each year winding up at the Bronx Zoo.
I remember walking home to a yom tov lunch. Sometimes at my home, sometimes at Mama’s home. (Mama was my grandmother. We never referred to her any other way, and my grandfather was always referred to as Papa.)
We all lived in the same building: my family, my aunts and uncles’ families, Mama and Papa, including some adopted cousins’ families. Most of the time we were one big, happy apartment building.
I remember being home from school for the holidays. New York closed schools on the high holidays. Who would be there? Certainly not any of us, the majority stockholders at the time. I remember feeling special, different in a good way, when I had to stay home from school for the holidays.
I remember folks belonging to the Church of Latter-day Saints, located across from our building, wishing us happy holidays.
I remember as a teen hanging with all my friends on “the block,” taking long walks, stopping to watch some of the members of other tribes on the basketball courts, or playing stickball.
It would never have occurred to me that this life would change, that I would be placed in a position of mask-wearing, 6-foot safe zones and virtual holiday celebrations. Who even knew from virtual? And masks? For Halloween yes, for High Holy Days? A shandeh!
We must learn to sing and dance our way into the New Year. We must believe with open hearts that we will be OK. We’ve got this! Goot Yom Tov ya’ll.