High Holidays in a New Country

Hello Rockland People!

My name is Liraz Levi and I'm the new Community Shaliach of Rockland County! I'm 25 years old, my hometown is Kfar-Saba and I’m really excited to be here finally! I would like to share with you my experience after my first few weeks in Rockland.

First of all, let me start by saying that the last month I felt like an emotional train wreck! I came back home mid-August after spending the summer working as a counselor at camp Ramah in Wisconsin. I had two weeks back home before coming here, which was full of happy events, family and friends, and soon enough, without much notice, I’m on an airplane on my way back to the U.S.

Coming here nervous and a bit scared, I got a warm welcome from the kind people of Rockland, who took care for me for everything! I have a beautiful apartment that I can already relate to as my “home,” a great car (with GPS, which helps me not get lost around here haha) and so many new relationships that I'm sure will become closer and closer with time.

Spending the High Holidays far from home was hard, but the number of people who opened their homes and their hearts to me during holiday meals helped me with the transition and made me feel like I'm in Israel. I felt at home too during the different services of the holiday, which I spent at Orangetown Jewish Center, Temple Beth Sholom and Montebello Jewish Center. As a music person, I was amazed and fascinated by the musical services that I experienced for the first time. Having Tashlich during the first day of the holiday in Congers Park with the community of Temple Beth Sholom made me think about the things I'll want to focus on and improve for the upcoming year, as I watched the calm waves of the lake.

Right before Yom Kippur I thought a lot about my family, because Yom Kippur represents for me the only day of the year that all of us are taking a time out, turning off all electronics and disconnecting from the outside world, to gather together to go to synagogue and say we’re sorry for the bad things we did. Unfortunately, last year I started going to the cemetery before the fast began, to remember my dear ones who I lost over the past two years: two of my grandparents and one of my friends who was killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer. Not having the option to do it this year, my mom went to my friend's grave for me, lighted a candle and read Tehillim.

The holidays made me remember all the things I lost and received over the past few months, during my process for introspection and soul searching, and helped me conclude the year that just ended, renew my powers for the special journey I'm starting here and become stronger.

I want to wish you all Chag Sukkot Sameach and Shana Tova!

Also, I would like to thank again all the people who helped me in my first days here, as well as during the holidays. I appreciate it so much.

I'm sure the upcoming year will be meaningful for all of us.



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