Category Archives: Rosh Hashanah

Ritual de lo Habitual

I am a sucker for rituals.

For years I thought it’d be cool to be Catholic, so I could go to confession, light candles, dip my fingers in holy water and cross myself. Also, there’s the whole priest-putting-communion-wafer-on-my-tongue thing. That’s pretty hot.

They lose me, though, with the whole lamb of God/died on the cross thing. No that there’s anything wrong with people who believe that’s how things went down, it’s just not my tradition.

I’m not terribly religious. Like, I don’t go to services every week, or even every month. I’m always there for holidays though, and let’s face it, Jews have a lot of damn holidays, and Rosh HaShanah is my favorite.

So I was in services this morning and they’d finished the torah reading. The rabbi called up this seriously tall and gorgeous man to be Hagba and hold one of the scrolls while it was covered and put back in the ark.

His royal blue dress shirt accentuated the stripes in his tallit, not to mention what it did for his eyes. They were piercingly blue. Nice touch with the dark brown hair and closely trimmed beard. Man, but he was handsome.

The rabbi looked around, needing someone to do the Gelilah and “dress” the torah which was being held in the lap of said gorgeous man. So, you know, the rabbi picked me. This is a seriously big honor in the circle of the Heebs, and I don’t want to cheapen it by telling you what I thought as I approached the front, but you know, I’m going to anyway.

“Heeeeeeeee,” I thought to myself as I walked up to the bimah, “gorgeous guy sitting in a chair in front of me…um, what am I supposed to do, again? Right, right, I’ve seen this done before. Focus, Madeline, this is serious.”

I walked over and took the velvet elasticized band which clips over the centers of the scrolls and holds them together. I bent down, glanced at him and smiled, “Hi.”

“Hi,” he smiled back.

I took the velvet cover and threaded the wooden handles through the holes in the top, bringing the gold and white embroidered fabric down, brushing his knuckles. My heart did a little leap.

The metal breastplate was next. I hung its chain over the handles and straightened it, leaning forward and peeking from behind the torah which separated us. Then the silver Yad pointer, which hangs on its chain from one of the tops. It chunnnked into place when I laid it down.

“Good job,” tall gorgeous man whispered.

I smiled, “You, too.”

“It’s my first time,” he said.

“Really? It’s my first time, too.”

And there are not too many things I can say that about.

Many glances were exchanged for the rest of the service, as he sat up front holding the torah and I sat in my seat.

Later, the rabbi made a special effort to make sure I knew that he considers Yom Kippur a “hookup holiday,” since once your 25-hour fast is over, you’re supposed to like, get it on. Apparently it says this in the bible somewhere.

Then he winked at me and invited me to lunch at his home.
So now tall gorgeous man and I have shared gefilte fish, hummus, mandelbrot and coffee at the rabbi’s house. He is a Mac user, Honda owner and our Treos had sex as we beamed our business cards to each other. I don’t think I said anything stupid or ridiculous but how would I know, really? My mind kept wandering to how handsome he was, and how I came just to his collarbone. How he would have to bend down to kiss me.

I love the High Holidays, with their familiar rituals and liturgy, the same prayers every year, the sounding of the shofar and the whole spirituality of it. I love the way that, at Rosh Hashanah, things seem infinitely possible. As the past year closes and we prepare for the next, everything seems new and alive and sweet. For the rest of the world, it’s just another couple days of the week, but for Jews it’s so significant. That’s pretty awesome.

I love, too, how the last few days have been a minor drag for me with some family drama and yet I felt so serene as I walked the dog tonight with my boys, excited about this guy–about the possibility that this guy represents–and smiled all dreamy-like.

We left the rabbi’s house together this afternoon, tall gorgeous man and I. I walked with him to just short of his car. He took my hand and didn’t shake it, just walked backwards to his car and looked at me with those eyes.

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