YK itself was all right. I brought my own prayer book into the synagogue and took some time to read the inspirational stuff in that rather than rushing to keep up with the Conservative liturgy throughout the day. Shul was packed, even at the low points of the day, but they did have a really awkward three hour break in the middle. I spent quite a lot of it asleep in the library, and the rest reading through the Reform HHD machzor, Days of Awe. I think that hour was probably the most meaningful part of the day for me, that and hearing the shofar blown so beautifully to end the fast.
I am a little peeved that the community here refused to blow the shofar during the day because it was Shabbat, even though they accompanied the liturgy with an organ. Musaf, the additional service which should be the high point of the day was cut to three paragraphs, (the three confessions of the High Priest with no context), and no martyrs' service, yet they insisted on the traditional Torah readings. The service was led by R Dow Marmur; it turned out that the religious committee were so excited by the fact that he speaks Swedish that they hadn't figured out that he is actually Reform...
The weekend itself was hard work but pretty successful. The Progressive group is really starting to gel; we're at that lovely stage where it's hard to stop people from chatting for long enough to run the official programme, but at the same time we had a lot of new people and I hope we were welcoming to them. R Baaden led some really good discussions, using Swedish poetry as trigger texts, and an absolutely beautiful Friday night service. Our Shabbat morning service was in the Orthodox premises, and they were not only nice enough to invite us in the first place but also shared Kiddush with us in the succah afterwards, and made a nice speech about how we're all friends even though we have minor differences in our styles of liturgy. Oh, and a party for the kids on Sunday. There were also some nice get-togethers for the Progressive committee, which ended up being more social than business-y, and great fun. I didn't get home until well after midnight on Sunday night!
The downside was that I was so exhausted I didn't make it to most of the actual festival bits of Succot, but never mind.
As I half expected with that sort of background, not everybody in the community speaks as good English as younger, native-born Swedes. My Swedish is at the point where I could make reasonable small talk, which I was quite proud of, though I was flagging as I got tireder and the room got more crowded and noisy. I led a small Friday night service to showcase our liturgical traditions, and then we had a delicious meal involving salmon. After the meal, the chairman gave a speech about how our community works and how we fit into the very complicated but essentially pluralist Stockholm situation. I gave a brief rundown of the history of Progressive Judaism, with her translating for those who couldn't follow English.
I think we made a good impression, although some of the older gentlemen spent the later part of the evening "entertaining" the assembled company with the kind of stupid jokes where the punchline is that Progressive Jews are completely ignorant of the basic underpinnings of Judaism. I don't think it was pointed, just tactless in the way that people like that have more than earned the right to be.
The train journey home was absolutely hilarious. A group of three slightly (but not obnoxiously) drunk guys decided to chat me up, dealing with the fact that I was travelling with a 70-year-old woman by chatting her up also. They asked us what we'd been up to in Västerås; the chairman is of a generation who hesitate to let strangers know that they are Jewish, but I couldn't think of any plausible lie so I just answered truthfully. This led to a big discussion about Judaism; when they realized we were actually giving them sincere answers they started asking sincere questions and what had started with them being annoying turned into a really fun and interesting conversation.
Still not caught up with my reports from my summer holiday, and not even slightly with the book reviews, and I've only made the smallest of dents in my email and communication backlog. I think my life is going to be a bit more manageable in the next couple of weeks, though.