When I was a young girl, if I was upset because I had nothing planned for New Years Eve (December 31), my mother would always say “Why should you care about celebrating New Year’s Eve? It’s not our holiday!” She would always emphasize the word our to remind me of my Jewish heritage and the fact that we have our own New Years holiday we celebrate in the fall. I must admit that every New Year’s Eve that I did not have a date, my mother’s words would come back to me and I would feel better.
The Hebrew words ‘Shanah Tovah’ literally mean ‘Good year’, and that is exactly what I will be praying for during the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days which begin at sundown on Monday, September 6.
This year I will be singing in my temple’s choir for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I would be lying to you if I said it was an easy decision to make . Although all members of the choir including myself are vaccinated and we rehearse with masks, my husband Joe is so bent on taking zero risk for contracting Covid-19 he is not happy about my decision. He even set up a Zoom call with a doctor friend of ours to try to convince me how wrong it was to sing indoors. I listened to what the good doctor had to say and the potential risk I would be taking. Then he asked me how I would feel emotionally if I were to not sing for the Jewish High Holy Days…the answer came to me.
I have felt so spiritually deprived these last 18 months that the thought of not singing the prayers in Hebrew this year made me more determined to try to make it work. Granted, my husband’s reasons for me to not sing in the choir are valid, and I really do not want to infect Joe with Covid-19. So I offered a compromise. As long as I am singing with the choir, I will sleep in another room, wear a mask whenever I am in the same room with him and keep a 6 ft. distance. By the time you read this it will have been six days of compromising.
Meanwhile, I am praying that my concert at Sonoma State University on October 7 will not be canceled. I am one of the performers at the college’s annual Jewish Concert Series offered through the Jewish Studies program. The coordinator of the event has told me that if they had to cancel my in-person concert, we would offer a Zoom presentation.
Shanah tovah um’tukah which means “May you have a good and sweet new year, and G’mar chatima tovah, which means “May you be inscribed (or sealed) for good [in the Book of Life].”
If you would like to stream Temple Israel of Long Beach’s High Holy Days Services and hear the choir I am singing with, all holidays will be live streamed on the Temple’s YouTube channel:
Services will also be available to view later at your convenience.