The holidays are over. The mahzorim are back on the shelf. All that's left is to take down the Sukkot, change the Torah mantles back to their regular colors, and get the white robe dry-cleaned. But now that we're in the month of Tishrei's swan song, I'd be remiss if I didn't share some thoughts about this past month, mostly what I'm grateful for.
This has been an amazing month, possibly the best High Holidays I've experienced in my brief rabbinic career. Sermons were well received, Gift Of Life recruited over 100 people to the Registry, we collected nearly 5000 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Delaware. Lay participants were amazing, the music was amazing; from the High Holidays to the Festival, the beginning of Religious School and Simchat Torah and Confirmation, everyone brought their 'A' game. But for me, it was the little things, the personal things, the small moments that made the difference.
A lot of it goes back to my son. He insisted on helping me put up and take down the Sukkah. A few weeks ago he came to me wanting to listen to Shabbat music he found on Youtube. Before last night, he practiced the shema for Consecration with enthusiasm, then last night he wanted to read his little Torah for his bedtime story. We were reading a "Peanuts" comic and Schroeder was talking about "Fur Elise", so we listened to it on the computer, and I watched his eyes grow wide listening to the music. For school E's teacher wanted us to share our hopes for him for this year. So I wrote them down, but then E wanted to hear them. We talked about learning to try and not wanting to be perfect, to experience new things, to defend his values with his words, and he was totally tuned in. He's a 6-year old boy, not the Baal Shem Tov: he still wants to spend most of his time talking Pokemon and Lego Chima, but these last few weeks have been filled with amazing moments of sharing and joy.
Normally, the holidays are hell on a rabbinic family, but Marisa and I have been able to find time to share quiet moments, to go out and celebrate with friends, to support one another, and to have her wisdom and strength throughout.
People came this year with a positive attitude. I can't explain it, but I'm also not going to question it. People came to the holidays (largely) happy and engaged, or at least open to engagement. It makes all the difference.
Last Sunday I Skyped with a pile of my High School buddies, and for a few hours I was 17 again. I don't advise it regularly, but it was wonderful and renewing.
I'm sure if I thought about it, I could come up with more. But for all these, I am grateful.