For months we’ve planned to spend the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur in Suva, the capital of Fiji, where, according to our Jewish Travel Book, the Israeli consulate organizes community events around the holidays. For months we’ve been emailing to get more info, and finally, once in Fiji, we’ve been trying to call the phone numbers provided. As the time got closer, we were having little luck until we got through to the Israeli embassy in Canberra, Australia. The bad news was that the Fijian consulate was recently closed. The good news was that the embassy had a contact in Suva who headed the Jewish Association.
We promptly called and emailed. The good news was that we got a reply to both. The bad news was that our contact was in Australia, not to return until Erev Rosh Hashanah (the eve of the holiday). And more bad news: there was nothing planned for the High Holidays. More than any other Jewish holiday, these are synagogue-centric; we spend the two days of Rosh Hashanah and the one eve and full day of Yom Kippur in synagogue with prayer, discussions, learning, contemplation and yes, socializing. Over the last two years of our trip, we’ve been home for the holidays, and with our Fijian plans thwarted, I was feeling a bit melancholy. Perhaps more than any other year with our re-entry into life on land looming on the horizon, I was most in need of some guided contemplation.
Quick decisions and some long-distance internet help from my stepdad (we were on a passage and could not do flight searches) lead us to Auckland once we knew we could leave the boat in Fiji with confidence. My sister’s close friend Michelle and her family had just moved here last year and they generously and lovingly opened their home to us. Their friends welcomed us to their tables. Their community warmly opened its doors to us for its services. How lucky we are to be the recipients of the famous Kiwi hospitality, although our luck is also a testament to who Michelle and Nick are (they’ve loaned us a car, their friend loaned us a cell phone, and another friend loaned us an apartment along our travel route). I also marvel at the fact that wherever in the world find a Jewish community, we are welcomed and fit right in.
Perhaps it’s the sweet New Zealand apples or the magical Manuka honey, but so far it’s been a super start to 5772.
More to come on the trip itself.
-Barb in New Zealand