Home > Religion, Travel > Nantucket Rosh Hoshana

Nantucket Rosh Hoshana

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Somehow, it hadn’t occurred to me that if we keep coming to Nantucket on Labor Day, then one year we would find ourselves here during Rosh Hoshana. This is the year. When I realized that, I did a search on synagogues in Nantucket and immediately found the lone one, Congregation Shirat HaYam. They conduct their services at Nantucket’s historic South Church, also known as the Unitarian Meeting House, which serves as the home of the Nantucket Unitarian Congregation.

Last night, we took the shuttle into town from the inn, made the short walk to the church, and arrived just before the start of services. The church was a treat to see. A year from now, it will have been transformed, thanks to the funds raised in recent years in celebration of its 200th anniversary.

The congregation brings in a rabbi and a cantorial soloist from New York for the high holidays. The rabbi explained at the start of the service that this is their third year serving the island. They are accompanied by a clarinetist who is a member of the congregation. The service is intended to serve Jews of all types — the congregation describes itself as pluralistic — and I think it did so quite well. I certainly enjoyed it. I did, however, lose track of the logic of the rabbi’s sermon, perhaps because I lost consciousness near the end.

One highlight — many of the men were wearing special yarmulkes in the rusty reddish color I have come to associate with Nantucket, with a series of whales embroidered along the edge. When I got home last night, I discovered that that red is called Nantucket red, having been established as the unofficial island clothing color by Murray’s Toggery Shop in the 1940s. It is also, according to some of the things you might read online, the ultimate WASPy or preppy color.

Imagine that, Jews wearing WASP yarmulkes! I have to say, I love the color. I might just buy one of those yarmulkes myself, along with Nantucket red slacks, shorts, shirts, and hats.

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Categories: Religion, Travel
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