Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yom Kippur in Galut

I had an incredibly emotional Yom Kippur, and for the first time in many years I was able to power through a migraine and fully fast without drinking anything. There was something in the air this year about Yom Kippur ... something fulfilling and powerful. Something that moved me to tears during the confessions or vidui.
We have willfully sinned.
That one got me every time. Thinking back on the past year and knowing that I made choices that were ones of sin, and yet acted anyway, well, that smacked me in the gut and brought tears to my eyes. I think that for the first time the Yom Kippur service held a deep and painful personal meaning for me, and it stretched back beyond last year into my failed marriage. 

I was asked to speak during Kol Nidrei with Minyan Na'aleh for roughly five minutes on "new beginnings" because of my impending aliyah. I gladly accepted -- to be asked meant so much to me. I toiled over what to say for a long time, and I ended up turning to my rav to hash out exactly how to connect Yom Kippur with aliyah with new beginnings with my ever-changing experience. The result, I think, had a more powerful impact than I could have known. I won't repost the text here, mostly because it's that personal. Yes, I stood in front of a crowd of largely strangers, but for some reason it made sense. The message? Choices. I spent three years of my life devoid of choices. Aliyah is me breaking out with the ultimate choice. 

I managed to stand throughout the entirety of Neilah, despite fatigue, a headache, and the fact that I was completely freezing. The sanctuary was frigid, and I was dressed for a typical Colorado summer day. Near the end of the service, when the shofar was blown and a burst of adrenaline had the men dancing around the bimah singing "L'shanah ha'ba'ah b'Yerushalyim!" (next year in Jerusalem), I realized that the words were so apt. So personal.

As Yom Kippur ended and I grabbed some Orange Juice and headed home, I realized that I'm so close to Israel. I'm mere weeks away. I just have to power through the eight days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret and then ... I'm off.

Sell my car. Sell my bed. Pack my clothes and books. And say goodbye to Colorado and hello to the choice of a lifetime.