So long since I have written here, though I write all the time in my head! Now where's that robot to write my thoughts?
Preparing for Yom Kippur, pages and pages of transliterated Hebrew that I will chant using a series of melodies that fit the tone of the day...yes, to the purists, I will learn the "right" way for next year. But after learning numbers of Sephardic and Israeli melodies for texts I have perfectly good Ashkenazic tunes, I'm finished. I will be lucky to get my mouth around the Hebrew correctly. I'm serious, pages and pages of transliteration. But this is the way I have always worked, and I will do it from the real Hebrew sooner than most people might think!
Tonight I finally made the roster of clergy--"Chazzanit Cindy Leland" (though when they talk about me from the bima they just say "Cindy" which apparently is enough to make all heads turn to where I am sitting in the congregation.)
The congregation members are so sweet to me. I have been befriended by a Holocaust survivor, Ayalah, who in my darkest hours finally gave me the comfort and then the advice I needed: "Be happy. Make yourself be happy. You have your health, you can work. You are beautiful and talented. Be happy!"
When you get that message from someone who lost everybody and everything, you listen.
And there are so many more, people who shake my hand when I light the candles and stumble through the Hebrew sentences that follow the blessing (I know that, at least!) And the ones who close their eyes when I sing after the silent prayer, or whose eyes light up when I start Carlebach's "L'cha Dodi." And the rabbi who commented after my first Shabbat morning service "I really liked your Nishmat Kol Chai" only I made it up as I went along (successfully, that day) and happened on something nice. Can I reproduce it? I doubt it!
So I have stopped assessing my life, and am simply living it. Working, looking for more work, working on the chazzanut, finding time for a new choir (more about that later) and trying to make room in my habits for friends. Though, right now every conversation is punctuated with the phrase "acharei haChagim" (after the holy days.)
My newest choir is one I found by chance--reading an English-speakers' digest of email messages, I found one: "Soprano urgently needed!" Well, I just had to check it out, and they do need me. The choir, the Alie Geffen Chorale, is comprised completely-but-one of Russians! They sing sacred classical music--Shubert in Hebrew, Mozart in Latin, Mendelssohn, Tchaikowsky in Russian, just lovely lovely stuff, and I know almost all of it from my "former life." I sang most of it in English, but to have Mendelssohn's "He Watching Over Israel Slumbers Not Nor Sleeps" in the original Hebrew, from the psalm--oh, it is magic.
So I was hooked, and then I learned that they are prepping for a concert tour of Vienna (for a performance to commemmorate Kristallnacht) then to Bratislava and finally to Budapest. And the best thing is that it has been heavily subsidized by some group and will cost me only $350! So I really HAD to agree--I could never get to those places on my own.
And it turns out that my friend Alice from Columbus will be in Budapest when I am there!
I am moving on, moving forward. Beit Daniel has booked me for an October Shabbat (besides the holiday) and I will have more. I will.