By Rachel Saperstein
One of the memories I have of Yom Kippur prayers is the weeping of elderly women during Ne’ilah, the last prayer of the day. It is our final time to ask the Al‑mighty to remember us with kindness and to give us a sweet year.
Something new has taken place in our synagogue. Tears have been replaced by joyous singing and clapping. The first time I experienced this transformation, I was shocked. Isn’t one expected to cry at the final moments of Yom Kippur when your fate is sealed? Instead, the new approach is one of turning to the Creator with joy in the full belief that we welcome the new year in the knowledge that the L‑rd is our dearest friend and we accept His decree with happiness rather than tears.
I had expected war to break out with Syria on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. We were braced for a Syrian response to American threats. Syria could not attack America but could, with impunity, hit the Jews. Hamas, our Gazan neighbors, would certainly join the “Bash Israel Fest.” We were relieved the attacks were put on hold. The High Holy Days were days of tense quiet.
Speaking to my friend Roz up in the Golan Heights gave me a picture of life in the north.
“Roz, are you afraid of a Syrian attack?”
“Rachel, I don’t think about it. I’m not going to leave the Golan, so we’ll just stick it out.”
Roz and her husband built their home in the Golan after their expulsion from Gush Katif. Chaim was a successful farmer of organic vegetables. Roz was director of the English Department in the Ulpana girls’ high school in Neve Dekalim. They had lived through five years of incessant bombardment in Gush Katif. Now they hear the explosions in the Golan. Despite the noise, their children and grandchildren will be visiting for the Sukkot holidays. Cousins from the U.S. are terrified, but coming anyway.
What the American administration fails to understand is that Israel will be the whipping boy for their indecision. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives today. I’m sure he will pressure Israel to cede more land in order to appease the Arabs. Israel is always at fault.
Our son, with the help of his sons, is building our sukkah. The sukkah is the outdoor booth we build to remind us of our 40 years of wandering in the desert before our entrance to the Land of Israel. We eat and sleep in the flimsy booth. We are protected from those who try to harm us. We will sing with joy in our sukkah just as we sang on Yom Kippur.
We wish you, our dear friends, a joyful new year. v
Operation Dignity needs your help to furbish the new kindergarten in Bene Dekalim, to purchase furniture and toys for their first group of youngsters. May you have the privilege of being among the first to care for their children.
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