Thursday Evening, September 22, 2016 / 20 Elul, 5776
by Lori Melnitsky-Fradkin
For as long as I can remember the Jewish holidays were something I eagerly awaited every year. When I was young I would beam with excitement as my grandparents and relatives arrived. To me the holidays were about family and being together, and of course festive meals. From an early age I had a strong desire to attend Hebrew School and learn about my religion. I even recall that being part of my speech when I became a Bat Mitzvah. Honestly I love the traditions each holiday brings from Rosh Hashanah and through the rest of the Jewish year.
I have always needed a Jewish connection in my life and realized it even more after I visited Israel to attend my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah several years ago. Attending the service by the Southern Wall in Jerusalem was breathtaking. Being invited to attend Friday night services at a local synagogue in Jerusalem made me feel at home. I realized the remarkable sense of unity in a country I had only read about.
As my children finished Hebrew School and became involved in their own activities the connection became harder to sustain. I knew the empty nest years were approaching and I was feeling a loss as to how we could continue the traditions without our children at home. Last year my husband and I fortunately found Makom before the High Holidays. It was a relief to be able to attend services and feel a sense of belonging with people I had just met.
After many years of not attending Simchat Torah services we went and danced the hora with new and old friends. I witnessed a Rabbi with energy and passion and a very friendly group of people. We have shared Friday night Shabbat dinners with Rabbi Bravo, her family and the Makom community. Attending a women’s seder was a unique opportunity to celebrate Passover with friends and explore interesting discussions I realized how opening up to new concepts and ideas can often broaden personal and spiritual beliefs.