My first task was to purchase a machzor of my very own. Maybe seeing the words on the page would make the task seem a little less daunting. I left the synagogue office and, clutching my CDs, went immediately to the Judaica store a few blocks away.
It's a tiny place, crowded with ceiling-high shelves of books from every corner of every angle of the spectrum of Jewish belief and observance. Its proprietors are the old-fashioned kind of Brooklyn Orthodox, very far from Modern. Men with wiry beards and black suits pace the narrow aisles as tired women in sheitels and teenage girls dressed in fashionable, long-sleeved t-shirts and ankle-length skirts guard the counter, summoning a husband or uncle up front with a strident "Shloime! Moishy! Customer!" whenever a civilian needs assistance. Trying to find a particular book is an interesting but generally futile exercise. None of the shelves are labeled and they comprise an order I've never been able to discern, probably mirroring the structure of the Talmud or some obscure but monumental work of Jewish mysticism.