The First (of many) High Holy Days in the Holy Land

The high holy days are my favorite time of year.  I’m celebrating them for the first time in Israel and they seemed to occur as the weather began to change. Night is coming sooner. There is now an evening and a morning breeze where in the summer it was just hot hot hot all day long. 

As I reflected this past Yom Kippur I am grateful for my journey, my first nine months in Israel, my home. The first few months were an easy adjustment for me. Filled with awe and wonder as I got to know my new home. I was happy daily and felt I had little worries. As time moved on of course, the worries came. The anxiety and the self doubt about my business and about money became paramount. The goals I set for myself were cast aside as survival became imminent. But as Yom Kippur came, I reflected on the beauty of the whole journey. 

On my journey I have met and created my wonderful JOC family…fellow Jews of color who made aliyah from the states who live from Jerusalem to Hadera. My family who has welcomed me with open arms and open hearts. Who give me sage advice and support when I need it. From the gan I work at which gave me my first job and has allowed me to learn something new but has also introduced me to some wonderful moms who’ve become my friends.  From the family who first took me in when I first arrived, giving me love and support even though times were not easy for me or them. From the other therapists here I’ve connected with and become friends with. From my good friend of over a decade and her wonderful husband who I love dearly. Then of course theres my loved ones back in the states who know me inside out and even with a 10 hour time difference I can still count on them. 

One of the most amazing things I saw on Yom Kippur was how the country shut down. Kids were riding their bikes and scooters in the streets and on the freeway. People were walking around in white or sitting outside enjoying each others company. There was a quiet in my neighborhood were all I heard was the birds chirping. Because I was so swamped and in survival mode I didn’t even think I would fast because I had not prepared until a couple hours before Yom Kippur was to begin. 

Yet, as I fasted, I noticed that this was the easiest fast I have ever had for Yom Kippur. Normally I have headaches and I start to count down the time when I will be able to eat a couple times throughout the day, yet that did not exist this year.

As I sat and caught up on some much needed rest and reading I reflected on all that I had achieved the past year and what I let go to my detriment. That is the beauty for me of this time of year. Yes of course we repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins. But for me this time of year has always been more than that. Its about being reconnected to G-d and reconnected with our souls and spirituality. I realized that I lost a little bit of that in the chaos (for lack of a better word) of making aliyah and adjusting.

Even though I’m still adjusting I cannot let life pass me by. I cannot allow goals to be unchecked and I must make my priorities a priority again, even if that means saying “no” to other opportunities, which don’t support my goals. This is my first experience of the high holy days in Israel and it reminded me of the connection I felt back in 2015 when I visited for the first time.There are no words for the feelings of feeling at home, but watching the country shut down and realizing I’m amongst my larger family celebrating in our own ways was beautiful. This is my home and I love it. Now it’s time to make all those dreams I had before I made a aliyah a reality.

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