The High Holy Days in Europe

The meditative
character of this trip was definitely enhanced by the fact that we were
traveling during the High Holidays, so I thought I would tell you about
our experiences observing them in Europe.

We observed the Rosh Hashanah services at the Main Synagogue in
Rome.  It was a pretty interesting experience.  The Synagogue
is certainly the most beautiful one I have ever seen.  I’m not
sure what style it is, but it was very ornate while still avoiding
looking like a church.  We had to go through security, of
course.  When we got there we thought, wow, this congregation is
really quite small, a shell of its former self.  But by the end of
the service, it was so crowded that no one could sit down; 8 or 9
people were squeezed into our pew, which had only 6 seats. 
Everyone chattered away through the service, even through the
sermon.  There must have been at least 2000 people there
total.  When we left, the courtyard was filled with well-dressed
Roman Jews.  

The best part was our conversation with Enzo Nahum.  He was
originally from Venice and told us about the experience of the Roman
Jews in the war and about the synagogue.  It was built in 1904 and
survived the war intact.  The story of how he survived the war was
pretty interesting, but I just don’t have the heart to get into
it.  We were impressed with his knowledge of history and details
about Italian Jewry, but one thing he said that sticks in my head
was:  “The Jews can’t count on anyone but other Jews to protect
themselves.”

Yom Kippur was an entirely different story, because we were in
Krakow.  Sara, Sara’s great friend Heidi, Heidi’s boyfriend Teria,
and I went over to the 500-year-old Remuh Synagogue, the only active
synagogue in Krakow.  The service was led by one Rabbi Gluck, who
comes in every year from Brooklyn, New York.  Ironically,
bringing him in gave the service an old world feel, because he sang
with a heavy Yiddish accent.  (E.g., “Boiruch Atoi
Adoinoy”).  His prot

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