Sunday, October 11, 2009

Simchat Torah: lows and highs

(See my Sukkot highlights--dinner in the Lennhoff's sukkah, Hoshanah Rabbah at the Carlebach Shul--here.)

The low was going to our local synagogue for Erev Simchat Torah. I go there in the evening out of rachmones (mercy), for fear that, with so many senior congregants who hesitate to come out at night, if we relatively young folks--I'm 60, the Punster's 67--don't show up for Maariv/Evening Service, we might not get a minyan. I don't think we got even 20 people, including the rabbi, the cantor, and a grand total of two children. For the record, no, we did not have 10 men. These days, it's fairly rare for us to get 10 men at any of our services, other than the Yamim Noraim/High Holiday services.

The high was spending this morning and afternoon at Ansche Chesed, where I had the privilege of choosing among three minyanim. Since Minyan M'at tends to run late on Simchat Torah, I figured I could always visit them later, and since the three minyanim meeting in a combined service in the chapel suffered from the disadvantage of being in a room not really big enough to accommodate dancing, I decided to take my chances and join the wilder (that is, younger: 20-40) folks from Kehilat Hadar who use Hirsch Hall for their Simchat Torah services. Though I did have to be careful to dance outside of the way-too-fast-for-me hakafot circles, I thoroughly enjoyed the singing and dancing, not to mention the festive foolishness--one poor chap, standing on a chair to lead the singing, got his pants rolled up to the knees by two kind volunteers. :) But the leining/Torah readings--they had five Torah-reading stations, to enable everyone there to have an aliyah--were quite serious, and the Musaf, with a silent Amidah and the repetition aloud thereof (chazarat ha-shatz), not to mention Amar Rabbi Elazar and Kaddish D'Rabbanan, was the most traditional service I'd ever seen at Ansche Chesed. (For the record, all services at Ansche Chesed and Kehilat Hadar are egalitarian, meaning that women and men participate equally and can lead any part of the service.) I'd be half tempted to try out Kehilat Hadar on a regular Shabbat/Sabbath, were it not for the distinct possibility that I'd be the oldest person in the room by at least 10 years.

All told, 'twas a delightful day, though it would have been nicer if my poor put-upon chair-of-the-Ritual-Committee husband hadn't gotten stuck praying at the home shul, where the vast majority of the congregants are too old to be interested in dancing.


Blogger Unknown said...


Not only wouldn't you be the oldest by 10 years, you wouldn't even be the oldest. I am 62, a regular attendee, a member of the Hadar leadership team, a Shamash (helper of the Gabbaiim, and, yesterday, the grey-haired guy leading the singing to the left of the guy who had his pants rolled up. "One's as old as one feels" is not only a physical thing. Spiritually, I've been spiritually rejunevenated at Hadar. You will be too. Hope to meet you.


Mon Oct 12, 07:44:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Meir, thanks for correcting my false impression--it's good to know that gray hair isn't a big deal at Hadar. Let me see whether I can pry my husband away from the home shul some Shabbat, so we can give Hadar a try.

Tue Oct 13, 06:06:00 AM 2009  

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