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(Wrong) Lesson Learned

Oh dear.

So here’s the thing. Today is the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Well, right now it’s after sundown and therefore the second day of Rosh Hashanah, but you get the idea. In observance of the holiday, Simon and I went to synagogue services at Keneseth Israel. When I was a kid, Rosh Hashanah services lasted around 5 hours, the vast majority of which was conducted in Hebrew. These days they’ve been shortened to 4-ish, with a majority still in Hebrew but decidedly more English added to the mix. Either way, it’s a long haul. I pass the time meeting up with old friends, teachers, and parents of friends, seeing if I can still identify Hebrew verb conjugations, and getting lost in the music.

For a kid, the attractions are fewer. You know fewer people, you don’t read Hebrew yet, and you haven’t been alive along enough to learn all the songs, much less feel nostalgia for them. So you sit. And shift. And negotiate breaks to go outside with friends. And silently freak out over how much school work you are going to have to make up once the holiday is over. And get hissed at by your parents to quit shifting and asking for breaks. When I was a kid, about the best thing I could say about Rosh Hashanah was that at least it wasn’t Yom Kippur. (Which ran twice as long and included a fast to boot.)

I vowed to make it different for Simon. We were going to attend a family/kids’ service. We were going to take as many walking breaks as he needed. And after 1 1/2 to 2 hours, we were going home.

As it happens, we did none of those things. The family service was for older kids and was above Simon’s head. He flat out refused to go to the sitter service, even though his friend Leah (the cantor’s daughter and a fellow Brandeis student) was there. All suggestions for breaks were refused. The one time I forced a break to give him a chance to snack, he ended up in tears and asked to go back to the main sanctuary. He sat with my mom for most of the time. He spent some time with my dad, too. When I could tell at 12:10 or so that he was getting really hungry and tired and begged to take him home, he asked how much longer we had to go. “An hour, Simon,” I said assuming that would force his hand. There was no hand-forcing. “An hour?” he responded with a nod and clenched teeth, ” I can do it.”

And he did. There was a lot of fidgeting and page counting before it we got to the last song, but he hung in for a full three-hour service. When it was finally over and he clapped with delight, I asked him why he insisted on staying for the whole thing when he absolutely didn’t have to.

“Here’s the funny thing about me, Mom. I like being bored.”

That was so not the point for today. But what was the use in explaining that again? Instead, I laughed, looked him in the eye, and said:

“You do? Well, kid, give it 10 days. Have I got the holiday for you!”

That would be Yom Kippur, by the way, the Iron Man race of Jewish holidays. We had another exchange I feel compelled to document as well, though it has less to do with the holidays. The following took place on our way to the car this morning:

“We’re going in the Corolla? Oh good! We can rock out on the way to services.” (Matt’s got music on an thumb-drive plugged into the stereo in that car.)

“Honey, Keneseth Israel is only 10 minutes away. I don’t think we’re going to have much time to rock out.”

“Rock songs only last three minutes. So we’ll have time for three songs before we get there.”

I could not get him to explain how he figured that out, but I know in my gut that he intuitively did the math. That was no lucky guess! He is, however, one lucky boy to have such a feel for numbers.

Happy 5773. Shana Tova.

One Response to “(Wrong) Lesson Learned”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    I have never seen a child his age willingly sit for that long in a religious service. I must say that looking at those dimples make my day much more pleasant.

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