Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chad Gadya (of sorts), and other High-Holiday highlights

Bad news/good news
A man comes into the synagogue exactly in time for Yizkor (the Memorial Service) on Yom Kippur and stands in the aisle--with his briefcase. (!) I'm livid that a person clearly long past his teenage-rebellion years would not only care so little about Judaism as to work on the Day of Atonement, but would so blatantly violate the holiday by carrying a business bag into the synagogue.
Then I pull myself back and take in the larger picture: The man keeps leaning across the row in front of us to speak to a much-older woman in the middle of the row. He may be violating just about every rule in the book, but there's one rule that he's keeping--kibud eim. He's honoring his mother by coming to synagogue to say Yizkor with her. The other good news is that he's saying Yizkor with her, not for her. May we see them both again next year, same time, same station.
Bad news/good news
Okay, it's not exactly news that I'm impatient with cantorial "concerts" during the Yamim Noraim. (Yamim Noraim: Literally, Days of Awe, a.k.a. High Holidays or High Holydays). The good news is that not only am I not the only member who's miserable hearing tunes from Les Miserables during Musaf, but some of the folks doing the kvetching (complaining) this year were much older than I. And here I thought that only a young whippersnapper of 57 like me got upset by this narishkeiten (nonsense).

I don't understand all the Hebrew terminology, and I'm certainly not as much of an expert on Jewish music as Mr. Just-Produced-A-New-Jewish-Music-CD (in memory of his father, a cantor), but I think we're more or less on the same page when it comes to a fondness for the traditional synagogue music know as nusach. (For an explanation, see here.)
Chad Gadya (One "Kid"): Bad news, or rather, sad news
Yes, I know that Chad Gadya is a Pesach (Passover) song sung at the seder, and I also know that the "kid" in the title is of the "baby goat" variety, but really, did you expect me to pass over :) even a semblance of a pun?
This may very well be the last year that I run (something remotely resembling) Junior Congregation on the Yamim Noraim. I got only four kids on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), and only one on the second day. I'm sure she was bored to tears, having to hang out all by herself with a dame old enough to be her grandmother for an hour or so. On Yom Kippur, I took a head-count just before U-n'taneh Tokef, and, seeing that the same poor kid would be stuck alone with me again, simply decided to skip the whole thing. The only good news was that I got to stay in the sanctuary for all of Musaf. (It was a first in many years.)
No kids. The sure sign of a dying congregation.
Hairy-raising happenings
In a congregation with about 3 1/2 people who know how to chant a haftarah (a reading from, usually, the Prophets), to get phone calls both the day before Rosh Hashanah and the day before Yom Kippur saying that the honorees were not going to be able to chant the haftarah is no joke. My poor hubby, who's the chair of the Ritual Committee, had to scrounge up a couple of last-minute pinch-hitters, if for no other reason than that he didn't want to "hog the honors" by chanting any more haftarot than the one that he was already slated to chant.
Good news
The president of the synagogue not only survived a recent mild heart attack, but was back at work in the synagogue office within a week. (Naturally, we told him that he was nuts, but he's one of those "Type A" personalities, the kind who are incapable of sitting still and doing nothing. Layperson's prognosis: He'll die young but happy.)
Good news/bad news
We ate so well over the holidays that I'm now heavier than I've been in about a decade. Eek! But it sure was fun while it lasted. :)


Blogger westbankmama said...

Thank G-d we live in a vibrant Jewish settlement with tons of children (ken yirbu). I remind myself of the lack of little ones in some of the synagogues that I attended in America whenever someone's kid starts to cry during Shmoneh Esreh (which bugs me because I never took my kids to shul at that age) or we hear the loud noises from the nearby playground through the open windows.

Sun Oct 15, 01:07:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Guilty as charged--I absolutely refused to stay home when our son was "that age." But I tried to be good about taking my toddler out of the sanctuary when he started to raise a ruckus. When he was that age, I actually spent more time *out* of the sanctuary than *in* it--I spend so much time walking around the building with him that, if I'd insisted on davvening the Amidah (praying the Prayer Reciting While Standing) with my feet together, as is traditional, I wouldn't have davvened the Amidah for years! But at least I got to hear the rabbi's sermon and yak with my friends at the kiddush after services.

Nowadays, our local synagogue is practically a child-free zone. That's just plain sad.

Sun Oct 15, 10:27:00 PM 2006  

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