We have been away for more than a month. We travelled to New York where the weather was the typical late summer fare – 27 degrees, humid, some rain and full on black clothing. Then on to Vancouver – 12-16 degrees, some sun, some light rain, lots of olive green Gor-Tex, odd sports shoes and Lulu Lemon pants. Moved inland through the Rockies to Calgary where the cowboy hats and boots dominated the airport and the temperature dropped. Finally on to Canmore, Alberta to witness the wedding of our niece while the storm clouds gathered over the mountains and sleet rained down on the ceremony.
I didn’t bring the right clothing. I never do. But this time was especially difficult since we passed through 4 seasons in record time. We didn’t stay in one place long enough to get used to the time zone or the outside temperature and then in was all over and we returned home, in reverse order.
The weather in Tel Aviv was a steady 34-35 degrees Celsius, every day that we were gone. The plants needed to be watered every day. The sea was steady.
Our return seemed surreal to me. Had we been away? Did we see nearly all of the family in less than a week? What was that trip to Bellingham about? In and out of two countries in 6 hours, two gin and tonics, a trip to Fred Meyers and a Barbie Doll.
Our travels were emotional and disruptive but the experiences and the joy were deeply felt.
Now it is October and ראש השנה Rosh Hashanah is upon us. Not just on the calendar or in Shul from 9:30 to 1:00 o’clock or at the movies or wherever people go who take the day off because they are Jewish but don’t want to bother to explain why they are at work.
Here by the sea, life is different. The חגים (holidays) - ראש השנה, ימים נוראים, יום כיפור, סוכות (Rosh Hashanah, Yamim Noraim, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth), the feasts and the fasts - continue for the better part of the month and with them the sense of specialness and the totality of feeling every minute permeates the air. The workweek is two days long and then it is three days long and then it stops altogether. Neither business nor bureaucracy can stand in the face of a rhythm much stronger and older.
So as I sit on the beach and think about how this month is very much like the last one. Each has wreaked havoc on routine. Each has provided ample contrast to daily life to think about doing things differently, and each has reminded me about the value and the joy found in tradition and family and friends. These two months have made it clear that disruption can be good, even necessary, and that the extra effort and the inconvenience and the disorientation make the ordinary seem spectacular. I am grateful for being here.