Gemar Hatima Tova

I’m still not able to put up a complete summary of the yamim noraim here, but I do have one story. As you could probably guess, there aren’t too many frum Jews on the U of C campus. Also, several of the regulars headed “up north” for Yom Kippur which diminished our talent pool even further.

Just how short-handed were we?

I davened neilah.

Yes, you read that right. On shabbat shuva, we realized that one of the regulars – who would normally take a tefillah or two – was probably not going to make it in for Yom Kippur. So, we divided up who would get what and I got neilah. I never thought I’d say this, but for a small second, I actually regretted not taking a Belz class.

My plan for Erev Yom Kippur was to go to the University’s Library to see if they had anything useful in their recordings collection. This was far more eventful than it should have been. First the library didn’t open until 12:00, and the recordings desk didn’t open until 1:00. On top of that, the search engine was down so I couldn’t even see if they had anything available.

Finally, I got the call number for this CD which seems like a live recording of an actual reform service complete with mixed chior and organ accompaniment. I wouldn’t have minded this so much, but they didn’t even use a normal nusach. (Carlebach’s simha l’artzekha for n’ilah????) I didn’t realize at the time that they also had this one which probably would have been more helpful. Still, kudos to U of C for actually having these CDs in their recordings library in the first place.

In the end, I think it went well. I love the acoustics in the chapel and we had enough ventilation such that it didn’t feel stuffy (which wreaks havok with my voice). Although I think I butchered the official nusach, I was able to fake enough of it such that no one seemed to mind and some actually liked the davening. (Oh – and no one seemed to care that I’m not married or that I don’t have a beard).

The Jewish community here is small and very special. Hopefully I can write more about it in a longer post on the yamim noraim sometime before pesach.

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