Yesterday I attendedYom Kippur services here in Barcelona. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life.
I love being home for the holidays and being with my family and friends, so I was sad that I was not home this year. My family has our own tradition of how we celebrate the holiday. For Yom Kippur, we always attend services in the evening and then go out to dinner to eat. Traditionally, you are suppose to eat before sundown and then once the sun has set, you are to fast for 24 hours until the sun sets the following day. Often times my dad comes straight from work to services, so we always wait to eat with him after the service. Then the next day my whole family and my grandma attend services in the morning until around 12:30pm. On the car ride home we all talk about the Rabbi’s sermon and what we took away from the wise words delivered. Then we all come home and change into our comfy clothing and all takes naps. Often times my sister and I cannot fall asleep, so we will do homework or watch television. Then around 5:00pm we go back to temple for the finishing service. By then we are all starving! We always bring some snacks in the car for after temple to eat on our way to break fast. Usually our snack of choice is challah! We all inhale the food. Once services end and we are back in the car, we drive over to our family friends house to break the fast with a buffet style dinner. We always have bagels and cream cheese and brunch type food. There is nothing I love more than being with the people I love most. It is such a comforting feeling to be surrounded by all the people you care about and love.
However, since I was not home this year for the Jewish high holidays, it was time to create some new traditions of my own. My friend and I got in contact with a local temple here, Bet Shalom, and asked if we could attend their services. They were incredibly welcoming. The service was all in Spanish! I did not understand a word of what the Rabbi was saying. I was really missing home right about then. Although, that feeling instantly went away the moment we all started praying in Hebrew. It was such an amazing feeling. Regardless of our different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, which includes our language differences, we all were united through the song of prayer. We all had this one thing in common. I felt part of something so much bigger than me. I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness. It is an indescribable feeling to be part of something that anywhere you go in the world, you feel like you belong and identify with strangers because our Jewish traditions and foundations all connect us. The people in the room were no longer strangers, but instead my community and my family for the evening.
It was such a wonderful and memorable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.