Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Rosh Hashana 2022

Long piece. I posted the first paragraph on Facebook. But I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. I finally sat in my car and typed the long verse part on my phone.

Today I went to the morning Rosh Hashana service, a celebration of the new year, the beginning of the ten days of awe leading up to Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. On Rosh Hashana we ask for forgiveness from people we have wronged. The prayers, readings, and poems talk about peace, inner reflection, the beauty of the world around us. We say a prayer for our country. We wish each other a happy, healthy, sweet year and nosh on apples and honey, sweet round Challah, and maybe honey cake.
And yet, I left services sad. Sad and reflective about the world we live in. The world that causes this small synagogue in Arizona to ask members and guests to RSVP for High Holiday services in advance, for security reasons. Police officers at the entrance, not there to guide traffic or assist with parking, they are there to provide security. This isn't new. I experienced it in Boulder fifteen to twenty years ago when I brought my children to Yom Kippur services. A police presence at our place of worship on the holiest days of the year. My children questioned it then. I question it now. What is wrong with our country that certain religious institutions have to provide security at their services to protect their parishioners while they pray?


I should be feeling full

Instead I feel empty.

The rest of the story…

During the service I glanced to my left,

at the entrance door which was slightly ajar.

For some reason that got me thinking about

What I would do

if a shooter walked through the door.

I assumed the two police officers were still out front

but wasn’t sure that would matter.

My mind wandered to the realm of

What should I do if.

The entrance door was directly to my left.

Between me and the door was the L shaped check in area.

Checkin was at the short table to the left of the entrance.

The prayer books and miscellaneous small items were on the long table

the table between me and the door.

What would I do if.

The prayer books aren’t thick but the covers were.

I could throw mine at the shooter

and grab books from the table to throw.

Maybe that would give the police time to enter

or someone to rush him from the side.

Wait a minute.

Why am I thinking about this on New Years,

While listening to the cantorial soloist.

occasional harmonies by the Rabbi,

waiting for the Torah reading,

looking forward to hearing the Shofar.

This isn’t how it should be.

I’ve never thought about this before

I always felt safe.

And if I was worried when I entered the building,

the worry quickly passed.

So, why now?

I know my little bit of worry and sordid planning

is probably

a daily occurrence

for teachers, people of color,

and a growing list of targets.

And what do we do about it?

Some of us vent on social media,

Some swear to be more vigilant.

Some ignore it.


How can we continue to ignore

the actions of a few

How can we continue to ignore

groups and people that want to destroy the sanctity of

places of worship and schools?

People say,

That’s just the way it is.

Get used to it.

Get over it.



Live with it.


Why should so many of us have to live in fear

because of bullies and cowards,

who carry guns into our most sacred places

Who sit in power,

   cozying up to anyone

   who will get them money and votes.



Religious pawns

Violence and threats

Where are the Ten Commandments?

Where are the religious tenets,

   we followed before mega churches and millionaire preachers

   became part of the political landscape?

Thou shall love thy neighbor.

My religion didn't teach me to hate 

  based upon color, sex, religion.

My family and schools didn't teach me that either.

We prayed for our country and its leaders today.

We worshiped G-d.

We stood, we sat, we sang, we read, we listened.

And some of us thought

about how nice it used to be

to worship in peace.