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Returning to synagogue for the High Holidays felt like going home

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Every member of my synagogue knows where to find my family during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We always sit in the front row of the extended seating section of our New Jersey temple, far enough away so we can lightly talk during services but not so far back that we can't see anything. Mostly we sit there because it's the preeminent, prestigious people-watching spot. What can I say? The Oliver family likes being in-the-know.

I live in Washington, D.C. The last time I went home for Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – was in 2019. I couldn't tell you anything meaningful about the service that year. Consider me then a jaded Jew: Bring on the customs (and food, especially the food), spare me your thoughts and prayers.

But something changed during the pandemic. Because everything changed during the pandemic.

When I waltzed into Rosh Hashanah services – fully vaccinated and masked up, as you should be too – I felt something I didn't expect.

Like I belonged. Like I was home.

I’m David Oliver, an entertainment reporter focusing on diversity and equality at USA TODAY, and I’d like to welcome you to this week’s "This Is America," a newsletter about race, identity and how they shape our lives. If you're observing Yom Kippur today, I hope you have an easy and meaningful fast. If you........


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