I don't like Yom Kipur. I have always failed to be moved by the fast and I have never met a YK service I liked. I won't go into too much detail about YK services, but I will say that we went to HUC for them and that they were dreadful. I am left with serious doubts about the effectiveness of HUC's Jerusalem campus. On YK morning I attended a rather hilarious service at a small Sephardic shul, which, should there be any demand on this post's comments page, I could write a post about.
AUSTIN MAKES BETTER JEWS
I am forced to conclude that Austin makes better Jews.
First, on some general Texas-related notes, there was a kid at the Sephardic service wearing a shirt with a cowboy on it and English writing that read "Texas Ranger." At the HUC services I ran into D.T. Panter, a long-time GFC staffer, as well as a woman named Rebecca (whose last name escapes me) who also a GFC staffer at some point and at another point a member of my temple's choir.
On an unrelated note, simply as a sign that if you think the Jewish world in the U.S. is small, then you'd think the Israeli Reform and Progressive world is minute, I met a guy who, at Kutz, went by the name Scooter. At Kutz, he knew my teacher from this past summer, David Singer, and he was once the boss of Erica Santiago, who was Leslie and Bear's (two of my best friends) boss at Kutz this summer. His orange shorts were also once hung from the ceiling of the Beit Am. He did not elaborate on this fact.
As for why Austinites Jews are better, we can point to the disproportionate quanitity of Austinites in Rabbinical school. Monique Mayer is at Leo Baeck, while Anna Grey (sp?), Erin Ellis, and now, this woman Rebecca, are at various HUC campuses. David Berkman, a predeccessor of mine as President of Austin Temple Teens, is Asst. Director of Camping for the URJ. Also, I want to go to HUC eventually too. So there ha! Empirical, indisputable evidence that Austin makes better Jews.
If you know me, you know I don't cry often. This is problematic for me because I like to think of myself as very in touch with my emotions and I find crying to be very therapeutic. I am constantly looking for a good cry. That's why I love Gilmore Girls. No snyde remarks at this juncture, please.
I actually cried during Yizkor today. I'll preface this with the fact that I'm pretty sure I've nenver been to Yizkor. Mom or Dad, can you verify that on the comment page, please? Before Yizkor the fellow leading services read a story which you can read here (scroll down to the third heading, which is "Information Please" t0 read it). The story was so moving that it made me cry. Then, floodgates already open, we moved into the liturgy for Yizkor.
I thought of the closest relative of mine to have ever died, my Grandpa. Sol Wilensky. I cried more. I didn't really mourn for him when he died. I was in third grade then and I'm not sure I knew how. Over the last year or so, I've though of him often. In the last year, I started wearing my talit to services more often, which I keep in the same velvet bag he was using for his talit at the time of his death. It is brown, though my Dad claims it was purple at some point. This has contributes in some way to my increasingly frequent thoughts about Grandpa, but the real cause was, inadvertently, my current plans on becoming a Rabbi. I was not conscious of the fact while he was alive, but my Grandpa was pretty religious fellow. Frozen in my brain is my final third grade perception of him as something special, even a Tzadik. His hypothetical approval is important to me now. When I first talked to my Dad about my plans for the Rabbinate, he told me Grandpa would have been very proud.
And so, today I mourned for my Grandfather, Sol Wilensky, who has been dead for eight years.
Coming soon: who knows? Is there anything y'all are interested in knowing about my time so far in Israel? Email me or post on the comments page.