As the wife of a recently retired congregational rabbi, I must admit that I was looking forward to a new perspective for the lead-up to the High Holy Days 5778. The frantic pace of sermon preparations, choir rehearsals and myriad details that occupied Gary and me during the month of Elul over the past 30 years were to be a thing of the past, as I envisioned us strolling into the beit knesset on Erev Rosh Hashanah, taking a comfortable seat in the congregation and engaging in our own personal prayers.
But as Karen Blixen wrote in Out of Africa: “God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.” Quite unexpectedly, Gary received an invitation to lead High Holy Days services for Kehilat Shanghai and the preparations have begun again in earnest (albeit not at the high level of stress common at larger congregations). Our experience of observing the High Holy Days in China will no doubt be an unforgettable one, and Gary and I are grateful and excited about this unique opportunity.
As I reflect on this month of Elul in preparation for Erev Rosh Hashanah, I am grateful for the opportunities that always seem to present themselves, the surprises of life and the blessings that we enjoy as we journey down the road towards Tishrei.