Rosh Hashanah celebrations, day 1
I continued celebrating Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) today, with first day shul services and communal meals. I spent the day at "Chabad La Metayel" (run by my mate Menachem), which is conveniently located about 3 blocks from Hostel Clan, just a 10-minute walk down the street for me. Unfortunately, when I got there (at 11am) the service still hadn't started; and we had to sit and wait until 1pm, when we finally got a minyan and could start doing shacharit. This forced the rabbi to jam the service into a mere 2 hours, at the expense of all singing, and through some serious (true Chabad-style) rapid-fire prayer. However, we still managed to fit in all the soundings of the shofar, which ushered in the New Year with a bang.
After the much-delayed and super-condensed "morning" service, most of us hung around for a nice, long, New Year lunch. Unlike last night's enormous dinner, this afternoon was a cosy affair: about 10 of us at one little table in the shul hall. More challah, hommus, chicken, rice, and fruit salad (hey, it's kosher catering — even in Argentina, that's the only food they know). More singing, discussing, and shmoozing. Once again, I was very much the odd one out, with my being non-Israeli and non-Hebrew-speaking and all.
We finished up the lunch, and then went on a long walk down to the Rio de la Plata ("River Plate" — BA's waterfront), to do taschlich. Menachem said a few prayers when we got there — but he surprised me by not throwing any bread crumbs into the water; apparently, it's "not required" and "not a Chabad custom". Well, I never knew that before: I always kinda thought of the bread-throwing as the main activity that constituted taschlich. But apparently, you can throw your sins into the water spiritually, without using the physical metaphor as an aid.
It was getting dark: but the eating and praying for the day was not yet done! Our (equally long) walk back to the shul was followed by mincha and ma'ariv prayers, and then by yet more eating! We were served pretty much the same stuff for dinner (yep, more chicken) — and I'd already eaten so much today, I could hardly stomach eating more. That's a good sign that I'm celebrating a Jewish festival properly :P. I'll be coming back tomorrow, to do more of the same: my soul needs some more nourishment; and they clearly need all the help they can get, in making a minyan.