Since I promised myself that I would finish all of last year's story before this year's began, and I haven't yet heard the words of Kol Nidre--"All vows and oaths we take... we hereby publicly retract..."--I guess I should finish. A week ago, my recounting of last Yom Kippur would have been full of drama; now it's anti-climactic, to say the least, and maybe even funny. (Sometimes I take myself way too seriously.) Here's the short version:
As we did yesterday, my synagogue had a kiddush last year on Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, in honor of all the High Holy Day volunteers. The cantor, who had yet to give me any feedback about Rosh Hashonah, was standing nearby with some other people as a woman came over to shake my hand. She turned to him and said, "Why haven't you let her lead services before? Why?" A very awkward moment.
"I couldn't have done it before," I answered. "I didn't know how."
The cantor turned to me. "I'm very happy," he said, in his uniquely cryptic and direct way. Then he resumed the other conversation, and I decided I could now die happy, if such a fate had to befall me any time soon.
Shabbat ended, and I returned to reality for the next few days. I also caught a cold. Meanwhile, I wondered how religious services ever took place before the miracle of telecommunications: the cantor emailed us an MP3 of a new tune to one of the prayers, and sung a melody about which I was unsure into my answering machine.
On the Tuesday before Yom Kippur, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. She took one look into my throat and said some ominous words: "You're about to get very sick."