Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

The end of summer took me by surprise! How fast the season went, I thought, as I tried to remember what I had accomplished. True, I had managed to get a few plants to grow on my porch and one closet had been cleaned out. Now it dawned on me that the High Holy Days were approaching -- early this year. (Have they ever been on time?)

My first thought was, do I have anything to wear? That, of course, was a holdover from my childhood when buying new clothes was second only to figuring out the Yom Tov meal menus. Actually, I should have asked myself "do I have anything that fits, is the right length and doesn’t hang limp on the hangar?"

In the "old days", new clothes were an absolute must for the holidays. My knowledgeable Bubbie said that on Rosh Hashanah everyone wore new clothes to symbolize the beginning of a new year. She then added that it was also a good excuse to add to one’s wardrobe.

Especially important was the purchase of new chapeaux for both men and women. (Spanking clean gloves and a fur stole, if you had one, were also musts.) Men’s hats, though different in color, looked pretty much the same. Women, on the other hand, went wild with feathers and veils and ribbons. The local department stores were besieged by Jewish women looking for the perfect hat for the holidays. The climax came during services when, from my vantage point in the synagogue balcony, the scene below looked much like a field of flowers swaying in the breeze.

Personally, I’m very glad I don’t have to buy a hat to go to synagogue, but the memory of all those beautifully adorned ladies makes me wonder if perhaps we haven’t lost something over the years.

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