Monday, October 3, 2011

Being picked up at shul

Nope, I wasn't picked up in the horribly awkward sense of being approached by the strangest, most socially inept, guy (or gal) in the room.  Or worse, by his mother.

I went to shul alone both days in the city that was most recently my home. I split my time between the conservative and the orthodox communities, revisiting my old haunts, and reconnecting with old friends. I didn't decide to travel for rosh hashana until I knew my schedule, leaving me little time to find housing and meal arrangements.  My solution?  I stayed with a non-jewish classmate. I accepted that I would be driving to holiday functions and back for the purpose of having a meaningful holiday.  I packed a box of cereal & refrigeration-free milk as a survival kit. 

It turned out that my survival strategies were unnecessary.  The holiday came filled with blessings beyond expectation.  Sitting in services the first morning, I was approached by the rebbitizin.  She asked if I had lunch plans & if not, would I like some?  I shrugged my shoulders and explained that I was intimidated to show up on someone's doorstep & then have them not be able to feed me.  Since being diagnosed with celiac disease I find myself very anxious at the prospect of last minute shabbos & holiday meals.  Knowing the anthropological song & dance of wanting to feed people who you invite into your home, and being acutely aware of all my food issues (gluten, kosher, semi-veggie, diabetic, etc.), I've evolved into more of an introvert as a way to avoid awkwardness.   Tangent aside, she replied "don't be silly! it'll be fine" and handed me a magical golden (er, green) ticket with a name on the front & directions to their house on their back.  The magic came in learning that the wife, the woman who prepared the marvelous lunch, happened to also be gluten free! Random coincidence = divine inspiration? = rosh hashana meal jackpot!

The rest of the holiday was more subtle, but equally blessed.  I prayed a lot.  I ate a lot.  I listened to and pondered a few really good dv'ra torah.  I spent a lot of time with old friends and people who I don't get to see nearly enough.  It felt like an ideal start to the new year.  May this year continue to be filled with unexpected blessings for all of us.  shana tova u'metukah!

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