It was Rosh Hashana, and we were almost 2000 miles from home and family. Our location was Bozeman, Montana. I googled “Temple In Bozeman,” expecting google to laugh at me and say, “your kidding, right?”. To our surprise, there was a Temple. But that wasn’t the only Surprising Revelation!
We contacted our local Rabbi, who reached the Bozeman Rabbi, who happily welcomed us to their congregation. We soon realized had we not given a head’s up that we were members of another temple, we still would have been welcomed with open arms by this beautiful Community.
I noticed that no matter where we have attended Temple, from my hometown of Westbury, NY, to Miami, Florida, to Buffalo, NY, to Bozeman, MT., once you find a Temple, you find familiarity and welcoming arms.
Yes, there are variations to the service. However, you mostly sing the same tunes and say the same prayers. People everywhere struggle with the blessing before the Torah and giggle. We experience the sacred joy of touching the Torah with our prayer book and then kissing the book’s spine. Recite the customary prayers for the sick and remember loved ones who have passed. I now stand and recite the prayer for my Mom. A time-honored oneness of faith.
Some feel culturally Jewish but unsure about the whole g-d thing. They follow the holiday rituals and feel the importance of custom, yet may question the origin of the beliefs. Others feel the oneness with a higher being. Regardless of your personal reasons for attending, there is a sense of Belonging. Something for everyone, no matter what your beliefs. A time to be present (no phones ) and reflect on the past year. The freedom to take a deep breath (even behind a mask), and sing whether or not you can carry a tune.
But it’s also a time to worry about evil people lurking. People who hate those who have different beliefs. As we sat down, the Rabbi gave the security speech. “These are the exits, and if you have trouble walking, please sit near the door for easy access to safety.” It’s a humbling beginning to the service and a necessary warning because this is the world we live in today.
If you have read my blogs or Op-Eds, you know that I fear flying. I often look at the flight attendant’s face, and if they seem calm, I feel better. I had a similar experience at Temple. The congregant who was minding the entrance stood by the door. When I heard a noise or new people approaching, I glanced at his face. If he had a calm flight attendant face, I felt better. When I mentioned this to my husband Mitch, I received the expected eye roll 🙄.
After the service, we were invited to join the congregation for lunch. We were treated to traditional foods. From dipping challah (ceremonial bread) into honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet new year to bagels and lox!
And everywhere we go, everyone talks to us about our beloved Buffalo Bills. The country is behind our team; they feel for Buffalo and our years of struggle. Everyone has their own team, but they all say, “It’s Buffalo’s Year,” after their team, of course! Montana and Wyoming are Josh Allen country, and there is a lot of enthusiasm for him and the Bills.
How About Those Bills!
We are 2000 miles from home and miss our family and friends, but the Jewish Community and the love of the Buffalo Bills make us feel at home. Even though we are far from our house.
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