By Rabbi-Cantor Penny S. Myers
As my plane touches down the day after Yom Kippur, hot tears form in my eyes. Surprised by this emotional reaction, it occurred to me; I’ve been homesick. Being away for two weeks mostly alone, save for Rosh Hashanah (my husband Bennett and my parents joined me) where I was invited to daven in a community I’ve never been in, alongside a Rabbi I never met in person, in a lovely heimische (homey, warm, unpretentious) shul in Savannah, Georgia for Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) is simultaneously temporarily exciting and lonely.
In Biblical times, and if I was not an ‘Israelite’ I’d be called: גר
תוש (‘ger toshav’) which translates to a ‘resident alien’. Unlike our ancestors’ experiences, I was fortunate to be surrounded by welcoming residents reexperience lovely southern hospitality that we had once grown accustomed to when we lived in North Carolina.
I text Bennett that my plane landed, asked about the status of our sukkah and then the realization of Chag HaSukkot hits me, the fragility of dwelling in a sukkah, the fragility of life, and uncertainty of the future. I wondered if our ancestors felt similarly as I did. The discomfort of being untethered from any familiarity, stability, community, the unknowns of a future as they sojourned on.
Coming on the heels of Yom Kippur, I offer up this vidui (confession). Buffalo was and is our home, I love our Jewish community, and am unapologetically unafraid to offer my own vulnerability; I deeply miss, sometimes grieve, serving our community as I had since 2003. After all, we have created and nurtured relationships and connections and am grateful that most continue to grow.
I believe Sukkot is a metaphor for life. The festival of Sukkot and being in a sukkah is simultaneously joyous and temporary. Entering a sukkah is a beautiful mitzvah and while it is not an extension of a house, rather it’s an extension of a home.
Perhaps Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz didn’t solely deliver a great performance, but shared with us wisdom of Torah, and with the clicking of her heels she was, indeed correct. There’s no place like home.
May you all experience the joy in our untethered, temporary homes during the upcoming week! Chag HaSukkot Sameah!
Rabbi-Cantor Penny S. Myers is the Regional Chair of the Great Lakes & Rivers Region of the Cantors Assembly, as well as a Disaster Spiritual Care Team Member of the American Red Cross.