In Which I Could Fast Better

October 15, 2014

Friday night marked Yom Kippur, and after a Penn Pipers rehearsal in the late afternoon, I felt extremely rushed getting ready on time. Dinner at Hillel before the fast however was quite enjoyable as I sat next to someone with whom I had a great many friends at home in common.

After dinner, it was home to change into my good clothes and awkward canvas shoes (one doesn’t wear leather on Yom Kippur) and headed to Houston Hall for the expanded size service. One thing that was particularly enjoyable about Yom Kippur on campus was that a lot of Jews both came out of the woodwork and came from out of town, so I was able to sit with a good few more people I knew than usual. My only disappointment was that Adriel Koschitzky wasn’t conducting any of the services. However, Elan Kiderman’s Kol Nidrei was beautiful and I was eager to hear more of him over the course of the holidays. Aside from being a wonderfully kind and creative person, he also had a beautiful voice that soared above the rest of the minyan with dynamics appropriate to the occasion.

The next day was a little harder. I didn’t arrive too late to minyan, however I already felt tired when I got there. Being sick and fasting wasn’t working out too well. By the afternoon however I was positively exhausted but still made the mistake of going for a walk along the boardwalk with some of the older students. When we got back it was time for mincha (the afternoon service) but I felt so weak and exhausted that I crept back to my room to sleep for two hours.

I managed to recover sufficiently for Neilah, the closing service of Yom Kippur, but felt like falling over towards the end of the service. When fast ended I practically collapsed into a chair with a doughnut. Break fast took place at Naomi Hachen’s with her graduating class, and was really nice and chilled. However, I couldn’t stay long as I had PhD commitments over at Peter Ballen’s  (one of the other PhD students’) house. I stayed only for an hour or so before going home to sleep, thoroughly exhausted.

In Which I Am Treated By An Old Friend

October 7, 2014

The next day both Rocky and I woke up fairly late, around 10AM, which left just enough time to rush to shul to hear the shofar and to stay for the Mussaf festival service. The synagogue we went to was unfortunately not nearly as warm and welcoming as Chabad so we resolved to return there for any following services. Lunch was quiet and at home. Rocky made me tea with coconut oil because apparently it was good for all my ailments.  Rocky was great in taking care of me and kind of nursed me back to health slowly from the state I was in upon arrival. Meals were simple but delicious, beans, bread, veggies. Everything I needed.

That evening we both stayed in, too tired to really do much else. However we broke open the copy of portable settlers that I had bought for the purpose and played around five games in a row, with me mincing Rocky a few times over until she got the hang of it. She resolved that we wouldn’t stop playing until she had won, so the games went on for quite a well. When it got too late to play anymore, she had to throw the towel in and we left the rematch till the next day.


In Which I Rush For the Shana

October 5, 2014

Up early in the morning I caught a cab to the airport. I was a little rushed but thanks to my newly acquired Star Alliance Gold Status, I sped quickly through security and onto the lounge. After an orange juice and the morning paper, I was well refreshed for my flight into Chicago. The flight itself was uneventful and I landed safely at O’Hare airport within two and a half hours of leaving. Getting in at a little after nine, I texted Rocky Neumann (a youth counselor of mine from Hineni when I was in grade four) and asked her for directions as to how to get to her.

At first the instruction was to catch the train and then a bus to her place. Dutifully I hopped on and started on my way. A few minutes into the ride I received another text that things weren’t quite running to schedule and that I should head into the city and meet her at Wellington Station. On arriving there I was redirected yet again! This time to Michigan Avenue. Though I had visited Chicago before it was far more beautiful in the autumn than in the dead of winter. Walking through the streets, gazing at the architecture I ambled along till I reached the road when I called Rocky for more instructions. As it turned out she was running so late that I now needed to navigate a system of underground tunnels to find my own way via express train to the University of Chicago. When I arrived, Rocky was no longer able to meet me, having had to enter an important meeting. With my knapsack on my back, I wandered around till I found the Hillel and then texted Tova, another good friend in Chicago. She immediately offered to take me to her apartment for me to relax. I walked there for a few minutes and met her outside, when she realized that she’d locked us both out and that her roommate was out too and thus couldn’t unlock the door for us.

After a minute or two of pondering, we decided to do the shopping for the chag (festival) and so we walked together to Hyde Park Produce and wheeled back eighty dollars of food in a shopping trolley, enough to feed a good number. After finally getting into the apartment we now found ourselves with not enough time to relax so it was off for more errands; to pick up some challah and then to another supermarket for regular groceries. By the time we were at the checkout counter, I realized I was running late to meet back up with Rocky. Hurriedly I raced back to meet her on the corner and both of us stressed an me fairly exhausted, we caught the bus back up to Lakeview in the north of Chicago.

It was now a race against the sun, we had to make it to the shul (synagogue) in time to pick up tickets for services over the next two days. I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of a synagogue charging people to attend, however it was apparently the norm across the United States. Everything here is so commercialized, even religion! It was at this time that I also started to realize quite how sick and exhausted I was. After acquiring the tickets and a little more shopping, we finally arrived at Rocky’s studio apartment, where I would be staying over the next four nights. Pretty quickly I collapsed on the couch, only to be woken a few hours later, told that it was time to get dressed and was quickly rushed out.

We barely made it to shul on time. Tonight was at Chabad Gold Coast (which amusingly is also a major Chabad in Australia) and the service was conducted by the Rabbi’s son who had one of the most beautiful untrained voices I’d ever heard. A tenor with a naturally pure tone, his songs lifted up the mood in the room. While the Rabbi’s sermon went for quite some time, it was well natured and we were kindly invited back to their place for the meal. The meal itself was highly enjoyable, with people from around the world and of all different ages crammed in. A particular highlight was the Rebbetzin’s  (Rabbi’s Wife’s) challah, that was fresh and homemade. The ambiance was warm, much like the people we were with and after the meal we were invited back for another on Friday night. We graciously accepted having had such a nice evening amongst very open people.

The walk home took around forty-five minutes, but it all seemed too fast for me as I was enjoying the time with Rocky. We had years worth to catch up on and being so far away from home, we had a lot to share. When we made it back neither of us had any more stamina to stay awake, so in short order we were both asleep.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney