Our shul davens neitz, so we had the additional challenge of waking up super early, since shul started at 5:45 a.m. As an early riser, it worked fine for me, and I loved being out and about so early. There are many plants that only bloom at night and the air smelled absolutely incredible and very different from how it smells two hours later, when we're usually leaving the house.
The air was also filled with the sounds of children blowing toy shofars. One day on the phone, I told Chana to hold on because I was outside and our 4 year-old neighbor was tooting too loudly on her shofar for me to hear her. ;)
Most amusing moment of the "10 Days of Repentence" between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: when Penina walked out of a routine appointment at Hadassah Medical Center and was accosted by a medical clown who immediately started doing kaparos over her head with a RUBBER CHICKEN! Sure beats live chickens, in our opinion ;). (By the way, medical clowns are all the rage in Israel. Penina even saw an ad on the back of a bus encouraging people to take courses to become medical clowns. I see a future for Cousins Eli and Sela here!)
Chana came home from college in NY early the morning Yom Kippur started. I got to discover that there is zero traffic between our house and the airport at 3 a.m. erev Yom Kippur. Not that I was particularly worried about it. By arriving at that time, she was able to spend her birthday with us! Happy Birthday, Chana!!!!!
If it's possible to say that one had a great time on Yom Kippur, then I'd like to say that. The davening was very meaningful and had lots of good singalong moments, we had great seats in our tiny shul (we were not near either the bathroom or the entrance door, which is hard to do in our very small and very crowded women's section), and it was so good to have Chana back.....
Preparations for Sukkot are supposed to start right after Yom Kippur, and, indeed, while we were still finishing our bagels, sounds of drills and hammers were drifting over from neighbors who eat quicker and also clearly have a lot of energy after fasting.
Two days ago, I saw a sign announcing "two bochurim available to build your sukkah". As I read the sign, my eyes moved a few inches higher and saw a neighbor's "sleeping sukkah" and the wheels started turning. 12 hours later, two creative 15 year olds (I was a little worried when I saw how young they were: "have you guys done this before??? Don't hurt yourselves!") had (with immense creativity because the way Shalom Shachne and they originally thought to build it didn't work, and he told them to just forget it. But they kept at it!) helped make us the happy owners of a little sukkah on the balcony of our second floor. Now the sukkah on the first floor will only be for eating and the upstairs one for sleeping. The inevitable complaints of "but I liked getting to lie down and rest between meal courses" will hopefully resolve themselves ;)
The girls and I went out at 11 last night to check out the scene in the mercaz. TONS of vendors selling lulav and etrog (there are pop-up stands everywhere around the city. I was walking home from ulpan the other day and suddenly smelled this powerful citron smell. Turns out that behind the small wall I was walking by a young man had set up a table to sell lulav and etrog).
Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach and to our friends and family outside Israel who are about to have a three-day yontif both this week and next, my hat is off to you. Good luck and may you really enjoy being "in the flow" of extended holiday time.