Happy new year! The Jewish holidays don’t always map well onto the Gregorian calendar or London seasons, but I do love starting the year in autumn, when everyone’s returning from summer and ready to set out on a new cycle of school and work.
Rosh Hashanah was last Thursday, and I spent the morning like I usually do, standing in front of 200 children and their parents in a ’50s swing dress pretending to be a rock star. I play violin in the synagogue band, which does a musical service once a month for kids, parents and teens with particularly good taste, plus the Rosh Hashanah service, which usually packs out the main synagogue (for non-Jews – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are like the Christmas and Easter of the Jewish calendar, in that all the people who never turn up to shul turn up for them. The traditional service up the road in Finchley is even more packed). While it is a little harder to pretend to be a rock violinist than a rock guitarist or drummer, like the others, generally it’s a good time making goofy band faces at each other and doing mic checks and sorting out sound cables like we’re real musicians.
After getting to fulfil our college music star dreams, the best part of being in the shul band is the small children, who come in ideal portion sizes, ie their parents bring them to you for a few minutes, prod them to say nice things to you and then remove them. On Thursday, a dad brought his three- or four-year-old son up to the musicians’ huddle to meet me; he stared at me with big googly toddler eyes as his dad explained his name was Ben, and he was just starting preschool, and he liked the violin and lately had been asking if he could have lessons.