Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The "joys" of being a "rebbitzen"

My husband is currently our local Conservative synagogue's acting rabbi, for lack of a better description for a guy who gives weekly "sermons" without benefit of even a Jewish day-school education, much less s'michah (rabbinical ordination). I guess that makes me the acting rebbitzen (rabbi's wife), or least, that seems to be the way that some folks see me. Since my husband's far from a trained speaker, I've been known to chime in during his divrei Torah (Torah discussions), if for no other reason than to suggest that he cite his sources--he frequently quotes rabbis. This raised the ire of a couple of gossips in the row behind me last Shabbat (Sabbath) morning. "She always has to put in her two cents." "Yes, isn't it awful?" So I turned around at the first opportunity and "apologized" for putting in my two cents, saying that I didn't know I was being offensive. I was actually being sarcastic, but it went right over their heads. At any rate, I'll be davvening (praying) elsewhere next Shabbat morning.

For the record, I asked my husband whether he minded me putting in my two cents, and he replied that he was actually trying to get a discussion going.

In defense of the wags in the next row, I will admit that, since my husband has no rabbinical or public-speaking training, I do tend to treat his divrei Torah as if we were having a conversation around the Shabbos table (or at a chavurah service), whereas some congregants seem to expect a sermon such as they would get from a rabbi. I would remind them, though, that my husband is not being paid.


Blogger Miami Al said...

I think that you are unlikely to get a discussion going if the guy giving the sermon is "up on the Bima" period. The only time I've seen a sermon/discussion work is when the speaker is ground level.

There was a family's Reform Temple, where the chairs were in a semi circle and the Rabbi faced the group at equal level and led a discussion.

There are speakers who have addressed the crowd at Aish Hatorah minyanim in a storefront where it has worked.

Once you have a stage/pews, people expect to be spoken to, not spoken with.

Wed May 04, 10:20:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I think you're right, and I have suggested to the hubster that he "come on down" and join us "groundlings." I'll suggest it again.

Wed May 04, 10:38:00 AM 2011  
Anonymous TOTJ Steve said...

Here's the quickest way to silence the critics. Just before he finishes this week's "presentation", let him ask for a volunteer to handle next week's d'var. Judging from what you've said about your congregation, that will shut up the naysayers. And, just maybe, someone else will step up to the plate.

Wed May 04, 10:53:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Nice thought, Steve, but their complaint isn't about him, it's about me. :(

Wed May 04, 11:07:00 AM 2011  

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