Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have come and gone. It is time to return my beloved Machzor to the bookshelf. Gifted to me by my beloved parents, of blessed memory, for my bat mitzvah, it is one of my most precious possessions.
When I daven from it, I stroke its silky pages. Its front and back book covers are long gone. The years melt away and I am a young girl again, clad in my new Yom Tov outfit and shiny black patent leather shoes. Soon I will skip home for Mommy’s yummy Yom Tov pot roast and mashed potatoes.
Sometime later in the afternoon, we will march hand in hand to the Hudson Bay for Tashlich, convinced, as Mommy assured us, that we would be much lighter after having thrown breadcrumbs into the water, symbolizing our aveirot.
Before we know it, Sukkot is on its way. We will join the other children at our rav’s sukkah to decorate it. How we got the paper chains to stretch from one end of the sukkah to the other is beyond me since I don’t recall a ladder helping the little ones reach the ceiling.
In those days, before the advent of global warming, Sukkot actually signaled the beginning of the cold, crisp weather.
The highlight was Simchat Torah – as my joy knew no bounds. As a teen having attended YU Seminars, I could not wait to showcase some of my new dance steps and wonder why everyone else seemed to be apathetic fuddy-duddies!
The years passed. I married and moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where sukkah-hopping kept us visiting one another from morning until evening. Following several years there we lived a military life. We were the chaplain and rebbetzin on a UK Air Force base. Our sukkah was lovingly built by the non-Jewish spouse of one of our congregants.
Returning to the present, as my children marry and set up their own homes and traditions, I hope that they will carry some fond memories of their own childhoods in Crown Heights. There, neighbors, especially in the building where we have lived for many years, have the opportunity to spend some quality time together for at least one precious week until, in the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, “V’Yaakov halach ledarko.” We depart, taking all the strength from our spiritual work during Tishrei to hold us in good stead for the coming year.
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