I have learned over the years that my High Holiday experience was different from many Jews I’d later meet. Growing up in my Orthodox bubble of New York and then Cleveland Heights, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were mainly about the prayers. “Where are you going to daven (pray)” was a far more likely question than, “Who’s coming over for Rosh Hashanah dinner?” In fact, we usually did not have any guests for Rosh Hashanah dinner. The solemnity of the day didn’t feel compatible with the celebratory atmosphere of guests. Yom Kippur break-fast was a small and unimpressive affair.
Humans of New York is one of the few social media accounts that both has over 11 million followers, and a consistent, heartwarming, positive comments section. The owner of the account, whom I know only as Brandon (I’m sure he has a last name somewhere), finds and showcases human beings whom we discover are both completely ordinary and astonishingly special. He takes their pictures and writes up their stories in their own words. Sometimes, he writes these as multiple parts in a series, dropping them slowly and carefully over a day or two like a long-awaited dessert.
In Cleveland, as in many other Jewish communities, there’s an organization called Bikur Cholim, which helps Jews struggling with illness, in a stunning variety of ways. Cleveland tends to attract members of the tribe from all over the world, thanks to our award-winning hospitals, and Bikur Cholim supports them with kosher food, rides, housing, and services you would have never even thought you needed. It’s an astonishing display of Jewish kindness during a person’s most vulnerable moments.