My fiancée and I recently joined a congregation about a block from our home. We went to the new member Shabbat, were called by the rabbi, welcomed by members and Abby (my future bride) was called this morning to read an aliyah on Rosh HaShanah. But even after such a warm welcome still it is kinda strange.
This will be our first High Holidays as "adults" and I for one am freaking out a bit. What should we do for dinner on Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre? More importantly do we host our own or seek an invitation to a well-established-bagels-lox-cream-cheese-kugel-and-caffeine-filled brake-the-fast? For sure I won't be asked to blow the shofar signaling it is (finally) time to eat.
I am not very good with change. I like things they way they are supposed to be; I get that from my grandfather. However some things change to make us stronger and smarter. I believe that is why the High Holidays are so important in our calendar.
Much of the liturgy of the High Holidays is about being written into the Book of Life or the Book of Death. This is a pretty heavy concept: our lives are predetermined by the omnipotent, celestial CPA.
This is tough for a guy who has trouble with change; we don't even know who made the cut and that cut is clearly a life-changer. Perhaps because it does happen each year, this mitzvah based accounting nightmare can give me some comfort. Heraclitus, a long since dead Greek guy said, "Nothing endures but change." Heraclitus was a smart dude, comparing life to a stone in a stream and dust in the wind (or that might have been Kansas) but what he didn't account for traditions.
Each year things do change - children are welcomed into the Jewish people in one way or another, a new set of kids will become adults in the eyes of the community, people get married and people will die. But for each of these major, life-changing events we have something that stays the same: our community and its traditions. Our community makes growing up and all these other changes easier to deal with.
So as we deal with starting our lives together this year as "real" adults in the "real" world, I am still freaking out but I am comforted by our community.