This morning I needed to do my shopping for Rosh Hashana, something that I don’t generally leave for the day of the holiday itself because I try to avoid the stress that can accompany preparing for the holidays without enough time to do it calmly. But I don’t have the storage space to buy what I needed even a few days in advance in the quantities I needed it, so first thing this morning I boarded a bus to go to the store.
Though I frequently takes buses locally at this time, this was the most crowded bus I’ve been on in the thirteen months that I’ve lived here! Our buses here in Karmiel get full sometimes, but I’ve never seen it packed like this. As I was standing in the bus aisle hanging on to a strap suspended from the ceiling squished in with people all around me, I thought how beautiful it is to live in a country where the public transportation is jam packed because everyone is going shopping for the Jewish New Year.
As I was on the bus, I mentally prepared myself for my shopping, realizing that the bus was just the precursor of a day with long lines and crowds. It was a good thing I did this, because I stayed relaxed and smiling through it all. Someone heard me humming and told me it was a good thing to do to deal with the crowds without getting annoyed. I kept thinking how lucky I am to be shopping in stores where the featured products are all related to the holiday, with everyone (well, except the Arabs) shopping for their holiday meals. The produce departments feature heaps of pomegranates, fresh dates and other vegetables that are used symbolically at the two Rosh Hashana dinners. Even the dish soap bottles labels are printed with ‘Shana tova’ (Happy New Year) on them. (I wanted to take a picture of some of these things to show you but forgot my camera. )
I had a feeling the young lady on line in front of me at the second store was an American, so I introduced myself while she was paying and asked her about her plans for Rosh Hashana. (She’s here on her own as a volunteer for an organization connected to the Jewish Federation.) She said she didn’t have plans for tonight, and I was so glad because I was able to invite her to join us! We spoke very briefly in line so we’ll have a chance to get to know her more tonight, when we’ll also have my mother and husband, and two friends of dd17 who are studying in Israel for the year (they’ll be with us for the entire Rosh Hashana).
Despite the long lines in the stores I was in, I didn’t see any friction between shoppers. Dd16 went to a different store and did see a couple of people arguing with one another about who was first in line, but another man said to them with a big smile, “Come on, it’s almost Rosh Hashana – this isn’t the time for this!” A man on my bus told me about someone who died in a fire last night, and we talked about how this really is a time of Divine judgment.
Whoever I interacted with – bus drivers, cashiers, the delivery guy, taxi driver, people next to me on the bus, neighbors in my building – I wished a ‘Shana tova!’ which they all returned with a smile. My house is filled with the delicious smell of challahs baking; dd16 is preparing enough to give ten of our neighbors for the holiday. Isn’t it beautiful that even in a secular city that this is the holiday that everyone is celebrating?
May every one of you be blessed with a year of abundance, joy, serenity and peace!