Jewish tradition gives structure to many aspects of mourning as a way to create order at a time when mourners may feel unmoored.
There is a moment during the N'ilah service on Yom Kippur that stays with me, always. I want to say that it haunts me, but that's really not the right image. It's more a flooding, a rushing-out-and-rushing-in-at-the-exact-same-moment kind of thing.
One of my most precious possessions is a copy of the Talmudic tractate Kiddushin printed in Munich in 1946 on presses once used for Nazi propaganda.
In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
“On Rosh HaShanah, the year’s decree is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, who will live and who will die…”
Nothing is more intimidating than leaving your comfort zone, facing a mix of new people, routines, and cultures – especially when you're doing it alone. I’ll never forgot how it felt when I left for college, a New York girl heading to school in the Midwest.