I didn't make it to synagogue for the evening of the festival on Wednesday; getting out of the house, plus shopping, took too long and I reckoned having at least something to eat was the higher priority. I was surprised when I turned up to the service on Thursday morning just how much it felt like home. I still hate the nineteenth century church style of services here, but the synagogue is undoubtedly a beautiful building and I was moved to see all the white vestments, and especially the community who are starting to become friends. People were enthusiastic about my return, which helps. A nice German couple whom I met at ploni_bat_ploni's wedding were there, having mentioned that they'd be in Stockholm for the festivals.
I got invited to lunch with the chairman of the Progressive group, which was delightful, with tasty food (including several traditional round things, gefilte fish and apples and honey and so on) and excellent conversation. I drank slightly too much wine, mainly due to the fact that the hostess kept refilling my glass so I couldn't keep track, but even so, I should know how to handle that sort of thing at my age! Back in time for the evening service for the second day.
Second day I decided to go to work, because I had already extended my holiday rather a lot and wanted to get started. Again, people were glad to see me, though there seems to be a general feeling of angst about work politics. I'll figure out whether it's actually important once I've been around a bit longer. I attempted to go to a lecture which turned out to have been incorrectly advertised, a nuisance as it was on the other campus on the other side of town.
Left early in time to get to shul for the Shabbat evening service. I attempted to invite ploni_bat_ploni's friends back for a meal after the service, but got overruled by a lovely guy from the Progressive group who invited all three of us. His flat is a lot more interesting than mine (he has a magnificent collection of Lapp hunting knives, among other art treasures), not to mention that he's a better cook! The un-Swedish theme of spontaneous and even gently competitive hospitality continued with some excellent but rather intense discussion about such taboo topics as politics and religion. We all agreed that behaving in an un-Swedish way was to be expected, since everybody in the party has a connection with Sweden but none of us actually originate from this country. The only downside was that we finished rather late, so there wasn't enough time to sleep before the service today.
Said service was surprisingly well attended for the date. I was a little peeved that the discussion session I was supposed to be running was not announced and there turned out to have been some kind of miscommunication over the planning. However, in spite of these difficulties I got nearly 20 people and had a very successful discussion. (I might write that up at some point, though it covered some quite technical and specific Jewish stuff.) Since I had been invited to a party by the American set mid-afternoon, I filled the awkward gap in between in the café of the modern art museum, along with a small group of friendly people from the community.
The Americans' party was absolutely great. They were sort of reenacting RH for the benefit of the kids and others who wanted to mark the new year but were put off by the formal, all Hebrew services here. Purists would doubtless be offended by our lighting festival candles two days late and in the middle of shabbat, but I think it was worthwhile. It was particularly nice to see RS (my former colleague, who introduced me to the group in the first place), and there were lots of other cool people there too. We did a bit of rudimentary educational stuff, and did the tashlich ceremony, and then had a meal of more traditional RH food.
I had sent the host a copy of my handout, since being in the middle of setting up for her party, she obviously hadn't been able to attend the discussion. What I didn't realize was that she would ask me to repeat the discussion for her party guests! I am not totally sure it was appropriate to have that kind of serious discussion in the middle of a party, and I was pretty much ad-libbing to adapt it for the mostly teenaged audience without boring the adults. I think people appreciated it; the teenagers (other than one lovely kid from my bar mitzvah class) couldn't be persuaded to join in the discussion, but several of them came up to me afterwards and asked sensible questions so I think they were at least listening.
To be honest, giving that talk (which is fairly emotionally intense anyway, it basically amounts to a whistle-stop tour of the High Holy Day liturgy, compressed into about an hour) twice in quick succession left me fairly exhausted. I'm glad I did it, but the only sensible thing to do right now is sleep
I did not manage to connect with pocketnovel, which is a shame. But that's probably my fault for being disorganized about getting in touch with her.