Thursday, June 09, 2011

Shavuot stories

Hairier than thou
In his rush to help me prepare for Shavuot after I got up from sitting shiva for my father, my husband completely forgot to shave, and spent the entire Yom Tov/holiday looking like a grizzly bear. A casual observer could be forgiven for having assumed that he'd decided to do something completely different and grow a beard after Sefirah.

Um, I don't know exactly how to tell you this, but . . .
One of our synagogue "regulars" is so enamored of, on the one hand, leading study sessions on Shabbat/Sabbath afternoon and, on the other hand, showing up quite late for every service that I've long since concluded that he's far more interested in study than observance. Still, in keeping with the tradition of not embarrassing a person in public, it may be just as well that no one had the heart to mention to him that, the entire time that he was sitting at the Tikkun Leil Shavuot and discussing the reason for the plague among Akiva's scholars, he had a pen in his hand.

Music by accident
Imagine my dismay when I found out the hard way that I'd accidentally set the alarm on my "Shabbos clock" to the "music" setting. (Hmm, this fancy new version has a cover that slides over the buttons on Shabbat.) Not only was I violating the rule against playing music on a holiday, I was also violating the rule against a mourner listening to music during the 12 months after a parent's death. On the plus side, listening to seven repetitions of four bars of boring music doesn't exactly constitute entertainment.

Fressing frenzy
The bourekas were too salty, the potato blintzes too peppery, and, after one and a half days of cheese cake, the thought of having yet another round of cheese blintzes on the afternoon of the second day of Shavuot made this lactose-intolerant individual ill. Methinks we'll stick to fruit blintzes next Shavuot.

On the other hand, after a late night at the synagogue's Tikkun Leil Shavuot fueled only by coffee and cheesecake, coming home to a meal of cold salmon (cooked before the holiday), Kirby cucumbers, raw baby carrots, and fresh fruit was perfect.

(DovBear says that, when it comes to essing (eating) and/or fressing ("stuffing our faces"/"pigging out") we should each follow our own/our family's own/our community's own minhag/custom, and not be intimidated by a possible misunderstanding of a Talmudic statement.)

"Evicted" :(
First, the office staff rented out the sanctuary on the first night of Shavuot, forcing the congregation to hold services and the Tikkun Leil Shavuot in the lobby. Then, they rented out the sanctuary again on the second night to a rather noisy group, forcing us to davven downstairs in the chapel. Finally, to add insult to injury, they not only rented out the sanctuary and the lobby before the end of Shavuot, they also rented out the chapel--for a band rehearsal!!! This forced us into the only remaining space, an office next to the chapel. I managed to get through Minchah (Afternoon Service) while the band was still warming up, but when it became clear that they were going to conduct a full-fledged rehearsal during Maariv (Evening Service), I went home and davvened (prayed) by myself. Not only would it have been impossible for me to concentrate, but, in addition, since I'm in my year of mourning for my father, I'm not supposed to be listening to music.

In our congregation, rental income takes priority over everything, even the primary purpose for which a synagogue exists--prayer. To paraphrase an old Vietnam War saying, the powers that be (meaning the president) have apparently decided that they have to destroy the synagogue in order to save it.

I'll be davvening at my favorite egalitarian synagogue in Manhattan this coming Shabbat. I'd rather take the subway to synagogue on the Sabbath than risk being "evicted" yet again.


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