From her unusual homemade sweet challah to hearing the shofar at a drive-through in Ahavath Achim Synagogue’s parking lot, Allison Feldman said the high holidays certainly looked different this year, but her family still observed in a meaningful way.
She and her husband, with their two young sons, ate their Rosh Hashanah dinner outside by the pool at the home of her brother and sister-in-law. She said the peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch challah she had baked and brought was a big hit.
She relayed how on Saturday and Sunday, she logged onto AA’s website to participate in services. “In this bizarre year of 2020, is it any surprise I found myself sitting on my couch, praying remotely with the rest of my congregation? I suppose not,” she said.
On a fall Sunday afternoon, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Feldmans piled into the car for AA’s drive-in shofar service. “What was Rosh Hashanah without hearing the shofar?” They parked their car in AA’s lower lot where their two boys popped out of the sunroof to listen to the blowing of the ram’s horn.
Mid-week, Feldman took her sons to the Gold Branch Trail in Marietta. They hiked their way down to the Chattahoochee River to perform Tashlich with dissolvable paper and bubbles, delivered to their home in an AA high holiday gift bag the week before. While standing by the river, they read the prayers and discussed what they’d done in the past year and what they’d like to do better in the coming year. “We also apologized for all the crazy things we had said/yelled at each other while we were locked in together with virtual learning.”
That Sunday evening, the family of four once again sat around their couch, this time to attend AA’s Kol Nidre virtually online. Feldman said this was her favorite of all the high holiday services. “My kids even cheered when I popped up on the television to deliver my Sisterhood president’s message. It was all very surreal.”
This year’s fast seemed easier for her, she said. “I must have conserved more energy without having to get dressed and drive down to synagogue to attend in person. I kept myself busy attending online services throughout the day.”
With the traditional break fast meal held at her family’s house poolside, just as it had been for Rosh Hashanah’s first meal, the family closed the book on this year’s reimagined high holidays.