Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb


One of the customs for Shavuot is to spend the first night awake, because on the first Shavuot, people overslept.

So, around midnight, we had some coffee and walked to synagogue, where there would be an all night class given by our rabbi (about Torah and Morality - cities that have gone into idolworship and must be destroyed and mamzerim (children of adultery or incest.) I brought with me the mishnah I'm currently learning for a synagoguewide event, and my brandnew copy of Black Powder War. There was a decent crowd, including other women.

We got into a lively discussion, which I cannot reproduce, and broke for instant coffee and nosh, and then returned, except I didn't. I pulled out the novel and read. I did join later, and then read my mishnahs (about idol worship, as it happens.)

I managed to stay awake all night, for which I should be happy, except, well. Morning service began at 5AM, with the rabbi issuing instructions for those who didn't sleep and those who did, and for those men who aren't married and thus don't wear prayer shawls - they normally say the bracha for the fringes on their fringed undergarments, but since they didn't take them off, that wouldn't work. They had to be yotzei on men who did wear taliesim. (When the married men said the bracha over their prayershawls, they'd keep the unmarried men in mind.)

But it was eventually all settled and they found someone who'd slept so he could say all the blessings, and they started the main prayer service at the right point - when the light came - so all went well. And then came the Torah reading, which is all about the giving of the Ten Commandments, since that's what the holiday is about...

and I fell asleep and missed them, and therefore the entire point of me staying up. Jonathan said he wanted to pound the mechitza to wake me up.

I did wake up in time for the additional service, which Jonathan led - and which had an interesting bit. In Diaspora, one of the features of holidays is that Kohanim, members of the priestly caste, ascend a stage (called a "duchan") and bless the congregation, holding their hands as if to say "Live Long and Prosper" - it's where Nimoy got it, but covering themselves and their hands with prayershawls. Before then, though, they have to get their hands ritually washed by Levi'im. Except that while we had two Kohains, we had no Levi. So, they drafted a firstborn son, our friend Stu, instead. He was rather pleased.

(In Israel, they duchan every day.)

After it was all over, we walked home in the early morning streets with a good portion of Flatbush, to have breakfast and sleep for a few hours.

I don't think I'll do that next year.

I made lunch around 2:30, and around 5 began cooking Shabbos dinner. In between, I read BPW and a new manga and whatever else I could find.

I had to go to shul today because, as the second day of a holiday, it was Yizkor. It also meant that I had to light a yarhzeit candle before I lit my Shabbos candles. I got there in time for the Torah reading, so I was in plenty of time for Yizkor.

We had lunch with friends (Stu, in fact, and his wife Yosefa and their toddler Kayla.) She made a sugarfree banana bread that was truly delicous, and insisted on my taking it home later (we hold by the local eruv, so we can carry.) I spent a lot of the rainy afternoon reading to Kayla. At one point, the men started learning, and Yosefa was uncomfortable staying upstairs, so we retreated to Kayla's room, where I read to Kayla (and she "read" to me from a book she had memorized) and we talked. And I tried on one of Yosefa's sheitles.

It was interesting. The style was definitely not me - but it was very similar to one I'd worn for years - a shaggy, layered cut around the face, hiding most of it. I spent most of college hiding behind my hair. I haven't done that in years - nowadays, I keep it tied up in buns or ponytails, and even when I wear it loose, well, it's completely unstyled. I just part it in the natural part and that's that. It does NOT hide my face any more. And, of course, I wear scarves in public.

Eventually the rain let up and we went home. I very much enjoyed the holiday and the week long vacation before it. Next week, it's back to work. Yay.

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