Kvell and Tell – October 9 2020 – Stephanie Blau’s Reflection on the High Holy Days

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By Stephanie Blau

On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed, 

Who shall live and who shall die, 
Who who shall just be getting by? 

These questions of deep reflection, 
Pondered my soul with introspection. 

Our lives as we knew it had been put on pause,
From a deadly virus with invisible claws. 

Days and months blurred together, 
A torrential storm we continue to weather. 

Weddings postponed; Bar Mitzvahs delayed. 
Lost jobs and businesses; bills left unpaid.  

Gone forever were graduations, 
Senior proms and planned vacations. 

Lack of interpersonal relations, 
Caused by forced separations 
Imprisoned us in isolation. 

Loved ones dying in a hospital bed, 
Waited alone to join the dead. 

We were the States of America, not united, 
Injustice and hatred kept us divided. 

I was angry! We all were cheated, 
I had no more energy, I felt depleted. 

I don’t mean to sound sacrilegious, 
But where is God through all of this? 

“God, can you hear me pray? 
Are you listening to what I have to say”? 

God answered me in various ways, 
During these past high holidays.
Erev Rosh Hashana was on a Friday night, 
Our sabbath candles stood tall and bright. 

The Synagogue was my living room, 
The TV a pulpit connected to zoom. 

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, 
It was an awakening experience I’ll never forget. 

We’ve belonged to Or Ami for many years, 
But these past services had me in tears. 

A flood of emotions with heavy weights, 
Up until Neilah’s closing Gates. 

The music from our talented chorale, 
Immediately lifted my mood and morale. 

Individual sounds from shofars were heard, 
Congregants spoke meaningful words. 

Old members, new members and those in-between, 
Made an appearance from their quarantine. 

Sermons from the Rabbi enlightened my soul, 
Along with readings from the Torah scroll 

For a moment I forgot about my individual pain, 
I was instead a link in a community chain. 

I felt God’s presence close and near, 
It was always God I was supposed to hear. 

“If your lost and feel afraid and don’t know what to say, then listen, listen, to our God” 

Or ami is a sacred place, 
A safe, nurturing, and healing space. 

Thank you, Congregation Or Ami, 
For allowing me to “listen”, pray, feel and see.