Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. I had an unusually easy fast this year, as did a number of people that I know (must have been the nice weather). I went to services alone, since Roxanne had a bad cold (now I'm suffering from it) and Abby stayed home with her. I brought Stella with me, at her insistence, so she could spend the morning in the 1-2 year old child care room, playing with other babies. Or as she puts it, "babies, room, fun!"
I returned alone for the closing services of Mincha and Neilah as I always do. I enjoyed the usual procession of machers - one of the richest men in the United States sat a few rows away from me, another oligarch stood in the back as usual because he came too late for a seat, a well known investment manager and I sat together (we are High Holy Day seat neighbors going back a few years now and sing at the same pitch) and admired the adorable children in the row in front of us. And I really love the Neilah (literally "Closing") service. Our shul gets totally packed, everyone is hungry, there is a certain air of desperation and often a sort of cool vibe.
This year our new cantor sang a piyut (liturgical poem) that in past years we had read in English. It is called El Nora Alilah "Awesome Wondrous God." It is an old Sephardic piyut, with a beautiful and stirring tune, and words of what I'd call faithful desperation - we know that we have sinned, we are not sure that You have heard our repentance, but please, please, please, forgive as we know You are wont to do. It woke up the crowd, Neilah flew by, and once more I was on the bimah with about twenty other guys with shofars, surrounded by fifty little kids, watching the glowing torch of the havdalah candle, then blowing our shofars as long and as hard as we can to end the holiday. I hope that my repentance was accepted and that my prayers were answered. If you observed, I hope the same for you.
And today? I worked at our Annual Meeting from 7:45 AM until 1 PM, then spent 3 1/2 hours building my sukkah. Now I'm sniffling with a cold, and Roxanne is out grocery shopping with Abby because she napped and her cold is going away. From the sublime to the ridiculous...