Friday, 7 September 2007

High Holidays

Erev Rosh Hashanah~29 Elul (12 September)--Light Candles at 06:10pm
Rosh Hashana~01 Tishri (13 September)--Light Candles at 7:25pm
Shabbat~02 Tishri (14 September)--Light Candles at: 6:08pm
03 Tishri (15 September)--Shabbat Ends: 7:23pm
The month of Elul brings the High Holidays. What does this mean to a convert?
A convert experiencing the "first" Elul, especially in Israel may be a bit overwhelmed--I would suggest finding a transliterated Machzor. When I started to become observant this allowed me to follow the service (and understand what was being said) I experienced...well, I really can't describe it, but I pray that I can reach that level again.
Starting this Motzei Shabbat many shuls have slichot--usually beginning around 11:45pm--in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Many synagogues also have reserve seating during these days, so sure to check with your vaad. There are many good sites for information on the Holy Days, but one must be cautious and be sure to consult with your local rabbi on all issues of Halacha.
I think the most difficult thing is when a convert has not yet completed the process. In your heart and mind you feel Jewish, but you are still a "gentile to the community". It can be a time of stress, pain, and even depression. Those who were blessed to be born Jewish often do not understand how difficult it is for the convert--everyone is so involved with their own family and customs. Perhaps this is just another hurdle that one must overcome in the quest to become Jewish. It is difficult, but it can also be a time of sincere, soul-searching prayer. Find a good teacher, follow the customs of your community, concentrate on finding the true meaning of the High Holy days.
May we all merit to be written into the Book of Life to have a happy, healthy and successful year for us, our families, and all Israel...Shanah Tovah

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