Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Seudat Purim with Elie, Debbie, and family!!!

(shot on the way home, at least an hour before Shabbat candle-lighting time)
(Sorry, I can't post photos of our hosts--Debbie and Elie are camera-shy for blogging purposes)

True to his word, Elie reiterated his and his wife's invitation to a Seudat Purim (festive Purim meal). Wow! And so, with rented car in tow (or rather, with us in rented car's tow :) ), we wended our way to the wilds of Central Jersey.

We didn't know what to expect (although we probably should have expected the 20-minute wait on Canal Street in lower Manhattan just to get into, much less through, the Holland Tunnel taking us to New Jersey and the NJ Turnpike--'twas rather embarrassing to show up an hour late.) Would there be mucho ceremony? No. Would there be, heaven help us, mucho drinking? No! (Thank goodness!) There was nothing but wine on the table, and I don't think anyone had more than a glass. (Since booze puts me to sleep and the hubster was driving, each of us had roughly a sip.)

The other thing I certainly wasn't expecting was the women's dress code, or rather, what I expected would be an element thereof. Apparently, I've been spending too much time among the "yeshivish" (stricter in their interpretation of halachah/Jewish religious law than the Modern or Centrist Orthodox, but not as strict as the Chareidim/"fervently Orthodox"), both at work and in my reading on- and off-line. The reading seemed to indicate that it was a wonderful thing that women are now obeying the requirement of halachah to cover their heads in public after marriage. As for the office, while the "observance spectrum" among the Jewish employees runs all the way from Chassidic and non-Chassidic Chareidim to completely non-practicing, the bulk of our observant Jewish employees are yeshivish. That translates, in sartorial terms, to the fact that I've yet to see an Orthodox married woman at my office who doesn't cover her head. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into Elie's and Debbie's home and discovered that I, of all people, was the only female over 20 wearing a head covering! Following my mother's dictum not to outdo the hostess, I ditched the hat at the first opportunity after making the ha-motzi blessing over bread, didn't put it on again until Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals, and took it off again immediately thereafter. We ended up having a conversation about what's really halachah and what's a minhag/custom. Yes, Virginia, there are still Orthodox Jewish women who only cover their heads in synagogue--and whose rabbinically-ordained husbands think that's perfectly acceptable in terms of halachah.

It was such a delight to get to meet Elie finally, and to share a scrumptious meal and wonderful conversation with him, Debbie, two of their children (one is currently studying in Israel), and Debbie's mother. We talked all about various Jewish topics, raising kids, their neighborhood (with an eruv and a huge Conservative synagogue in addition to the Orthodox ones--hmm), and anything else that came to mind. We were surprised and delighted when they invited us to come back and spend a Shabbat/Sabbath with them after tax season. (I was even more surprised when Debbie suggested that we come for a Shabbat on which the Conservative synagogue was having its monthly egalitarian minyan, as I'd assumed that, when in frumville, davven as the frummies do [with them in their synagogue].)

I have to admit, though, that I was jealous when Elie started talking about casually walking down the street and leaving mishloach manot (Purim's mandated gifts of food) for friends. I should live so long.

Speaking of different minhagim, the Punster wasn't quite sure whether our hosts' minhag was to sing all of Birkat HaMazon aloud or recite silently after the first paragraph. While leading, he hesitated just long enough to find Elie and Debbie zipping ahead of him in the singing. (Hmm, no problem here with Kol Ishah [a woman singing in the presence of a man not her husband and not related to her by blood] when singing Birkat HaMazon, at least.) As for me, I figured out, only after getting to the words "Bi-y'mei Matityahu," that I was reading the HaNissim paragraphs for Chanukah, not the ones for Purim, and had to start that part of the prayer over again, so I ended up finishing several minutes after everyone else. (That's typical [insert roll-eyes emoticon here].)

Anyway, we're looking forward to seeing the Rosenfeld crew some Shabbos after tax season. Thanks so much for the delicious food and the delightful time!


Blogger Leora said...

Debbie is one cool person! Fun to read about people I know on someone's blog. I'm so glad you enjoyed your seudah with the Rosenfelds.

Sun Mar 23, 07:41:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not absolutely sure where you were, but it sounds like HP. In which case, the egalitarian minyan at the "big" conservative shul [not so big, really] is every shabbat and yom tov. We run parallel minyans, egal, and non-, and rotate on a weekly basis as to which is in the main sanctuary with the Rabbi and the other is lay-lead. We reunite after the conclusion of musaf amidah for d'var torah, concluding prayers and kiddush! Please feel welcome to join us.

Too old to jewschool Steve

Mon Mar 24, 04:21:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Leora, indeed we did enjoy.

Anon., yes, we were in Highland Park. Thanks for the info. The idea of alternating sounds like a really great way to handle differences of opinion on women's roles in a Conservative synagogue. It's a shame that our shul is far too underpopulated for such an arrangement--any egalitarian service would deprive the "traditional" service of a minyan.

Mon Mar 24, 07:37:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Elie said...

Shira: As I emailed you off-list, it was great having you as well! I was about to post the same correction about our reference to a rotating Egalitarian service here, being separate from the Conservative Temple. We don't attend either, but wanted you to know what's avalable here if/when you visit for Shabbos and want to try something different.

Thu Mar 27, 01:41:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Elie said...

And BTW, the "egal" service Debbie referred to is really an innovative type of service under Orthodox auspices, started by a friend of ours, and not what's usually called "egal" which is non-O. See this link for more:

Thu Mar 27, 01:44:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Elie, we had a grand time, and certainly hope to make a return visit for a Shabbat.

Is a service run by Kehilat Ohel what’s sometimes described as a ”Partnership Minyan”?

Thu Mar 27, 03:42:00 PM 2008  

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