Monday, June 01, 2009

The loud latecomer, and other annoyances

Call this a kvetching post, a rant, a gripe session, or whatever, but if you find complaints boring, just skip this.

The loud latecomer
The problem isn't that this person frequently comes to services late. The problem is that this individual apologizes loudly to one and all and explains the reasons for said lateness. A little seichel/common sense and/or derech eretz/common courtesy would be nice. If you come late to services, take a siddur/prayer book and take your place, and don't disturb people who are in mid-prayer.

The shirker/show-off
In this particular case, I must specify that I'm talking about a man because his gender is relevant. Our local Conservative synagogue does not give aliyot to women and is extremely short of men, and, therefore, my poor husband, the Ritual Committee chair, spends most Shabbat mornings biting his nails hoping to have enough men to whom to give aliyot. The party in question has taken to making it a point to come late, making it difficult to assign him an aliyah. He also refuses either to chant a haftarah without prior notice (despite being one of the congregation's most fluent Hebrew-speakers) or to make a commitment in advance to chant a haftarah, with the result that he usually ends up chanting a haftarah a grand total of once a year, in honor of his father's yahrzeit. This, in a congregation in which the number of members who attend synagogue on a regular basis and know how to chant a haftarah can now be counted on one hand. He also shows up after Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv Services on Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Evening, just in time for our little Oneg Shabbat of coffee and cookies, and after Minchah/Afternoon Services on Shabbat, just in time for S'udah Shlishit/the Sabbath Afternoon "Third Meal," thus usually helping to ensure that we don't have a minyan.

Yet, for all that, he loves to present divrei Torah (words of study from our sacred literature)--ironically, from a perspective far to the right of his personal practice--at the S'udah Shlishat, and it doesn't seem to occur to him that there might be anything hypocritical about his behavior. You can look at this one of two ways. You can say that this person may not like praying, but at least he loves Talmud Torah/the study of Jewish sacred texts. Or, as I said, you can say that this is a person who shirks his responsibilities to the congregation, but still expects us to listen to his words of wisdom. Sorry, folks, but having seen what my husband goes through, trying to drum up enough men for aliyot, and how he often ends up doing the haftarah himself for a month of Shabbatot in a row, and having felt how annoying it can be to have someone walk in after we need a minyan, I simply find it difficult to show this shirker any respect.

The shnorrer (beggar)
This particular individual happens to have some Jewish and general skills that make it useful to the congregation to pay for his/her services, on occasion. But while it's true that the person in question has serious mobility challenges, she or he somehow always manages to get to synagogue when there's money to be earned or a special kiddush or holiday meal to be eaten (often at the synagogue's expense), but she/he never comes to synagogue just to pray.

The snob
Every Erev Shavuot it's the same story--the rabbi refuses to participate in our Tikkun Leil Shavuot study session because he insists that a real Tikkun is supposed to last all night. He may be correct, technically, but why can't he give a d'var Torah before going home to study? He acts as if any participation in our study session would be beneath his dignity, and I resent it.

The speed-davvener
Okay, here's where I'm going to get myself in trouble with my more traditional readers, in all likelihood, but, for the life of me, I can't understand how anyone can pray an entire weekday Shacharit/Morning Service in only about half an hour and still manage to pray with any semblance of kavvanah (intent, focus). Sure, I can now davven Shacharit in about half an hour--but that's only on weekdays when I'm in a hurry and skip all of P'sukei D'Zimrah except for Baruch ShehAmar, Ashrei, Psalm 150 (Hallelu Kel D'kosho), and Yishtabach, not to mention skipping Tachanun, La-m'natzeiach and K'dushah D'Sidra (U'va l'Tzion Goel). And why does the prayer leader bother to davven that quickly on a Sunday, when s/he's just going home anyway? Even our chazzan/cantor says that this person's going too fast.

Okay, rant over. You can come out now. :)


Anonymous Miami Al said...

All annoying types... just impressed that you have so many problem members with so few congregants... Might be why you have a numbers person, I certainly wouldn't want to go to that Shul... the people are all jerks! :)

Out of curiousity, you don't like the Rabbi and you don't like the congregants, what holds you there? Habit?

Tue Jun 02, 10:05:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

What holds me there is that it's within walking distance, and my parents always had a thing about belonging to the local Conservative synagogue as a matter of principle--we have to support our own.

Sorry to paint such a negative picture--we do have a few good souls. My "partner in crime"--the woman who sits next to me on Shabbat/Sabbath and Yom Tov--is a very fine individual who's contributed much time and effort to the shul. Some of the seniors are cool, too.

Tue Jun 02, 01:28:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that the time restriction for weekday shacharit force me to increase my focus in order to stay on track. A lingering service provides opportunities to space out...

It's like watching a mixed martial arts fight in one of the lower weight classes (l'havdil). The fight moves incredibly quickly, and if you blink you might miss something.

Mon Jun 08, 12:00:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"I find that the time restriction for weekday shacharit force me to increase my focus in order to stay on track." Lucky you. Thus far, I haven't found that that works for me.

Mon Jun 08, 05:11:00 PM 2009  

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