We spent Rosh Hashana in Hoshaya with Jeff’s relatives and enjoyed not only the company but also the clear air and quiet.
There were two interesting things that happened during services on the first day of the holiday. First there was a brit milah. They did it immediately before the shofar service, and I didn’t know until afterward, but the reason was so that they could put a drop of blood on the shofar for symbolic reasons: It combines two powerful symbols of God’s relationship with Israel–brit milah and akedat yitzchak.
The second cool thing was hearing the entire huge congregation sing my favorite tune for Unetaneh Tokef. Go ahead and hit the play button and take a few minutes to listen if you haven’t heard it before. (Nili has sung it at Beth El in the past.) It’s very dramatic and moving. The melody was composed by Yair Rosenblum in memory of the sons of his kibbutz who fell in the Yom Kippur War.
EDIT (thanks Mom): If you’d find an English translation helpful, check out this live performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w6fV62p_To
A few years back I watched a documentary called “Unetaneh Tokef” that features Rosenblum’s melody and the Israeli response to the war. During and after the Yom Kippur War, secular Israelis who had previously found no meaning in Yom Kippur began to find a modern Zionist meaning in it. That year, in the words of the Unetaneh Tokef, they felt that “who will live and who will die” was being determined. Not just individuals but also nations are judged on Yom Kippur, and during that war, Israel’s fate as a nation indeed hung in the balance. The end of the prayer speaks of the fragility of human life, and it’s very moving to think of it in terms of defending our homeland.
I got chills during services hearing four hundred Israelis singing the beautiful and haunting melody that I love.