Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Days (or at least mornings) of Awe

In my dreams, I am being shaken awake. 

Except it's no dream, I'm being shaken awake.  My father is saying something to me but the words are not getting through.

"What time is it?" I ask.  It's pitch black out.

"4:50" he replies.

"4:50? AM?"

"4:50, am.  [Older Brother] and I are going to shul now for Sjgdldkjf. I thought you might want to come."

"Where?  For what?"

"To shul.  For Selichos.  For Rosh Hashana."

I mumble something incomprehensible.  "[Older Brother] and I are leaving at five after.  If you want to come."  And then he's gone, almost like the dream he awakend me from.

Despite all my good sense, I stumble out of bed, recognizing a gesture when I see it, even if I am not yet awake.  I somehow manage a skirt and sweatshirt and go downstairs.  There's a lot of black hats and jackets (ok, 2) waiting for me.

We drive to shul on the dark streets in silence.  When we get there, I am the only female.  My father hands me a fat brown book - linear translation of Selichos.  He flips it to the right page and hands it to me.  "Follow along as best as you can.  The Hashem Hashem parts are the most important."  I nod sagely, yearning not for the Hashem Hashem parts, but for a 24 ounce coffee from 7-11.  Maybe even the special extra caffeine kind.

There's a bang and we are off and running.  There's a lot of murmering, occassionally some loud prayers and a whole lot more murmering.  I'm completely lost within minutes. 

I read the translations and try to mutter some of the prayers.  The hebrew means nothing to me but some of the english translation is clearly written in a heartfelt, powerful way.  I read the words and try to focus.

About 45 minutes in it hits me.  Something else heartfelt and powerful.  My father has not given up on me.  He's bringing me to Selichos at 5:00 am and he still belives in me.  In my Judaism. 

In my soul. 

Now the words are all of a sudden blurry and I realize I am crying.  But they are neither tears of sadness nor tears of repentance.

They are tears of joy.

In the car home, afterwards, I ask my father:  "If, say, I wanted to attend servic...come to shul for Rosh Hashana, do you think there is room for me?  I know the women's section gets pretty packed."

"Cymbaline," he replies.  "There has always been, and there will always be, a place for you in shul for the Yomim Noraim."

A sense of...belonging washes over me.  A feeling I haven't felt with regards to my family in a long time.  "Now let's go get some breakfast," my brother gleefuly shouts.

And that's what we do.


  1. touching. Kudos to you for recognizing the early wake-up call as an invitation to join a family activity (which it really kind of was) and not as pushing religion down your throat at 5:50AM.