Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Post-Pesach post, 5772/2012

Please note that I may be unable to comment from the office, and I may have to add more links later, from my home computer, due to a malfunction in my blog as it appears on my office computer. Since I can't scroll down more than about twice the length of my screen, I probably won't be able to see the comments, and I'll have no access to previous posts for purposes of copying hyperlinks. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I can copy some links from my Word archives, if I have a minute. Stay tuned.

12:26 PM update--It appears that the problem is not with my blog as a whole, but with my accumulated info post, which I can't see in full even in the Edit Post window(!).

1:04 PM: I have deleted and re-published that post, maintaining the original date and time of publication but almost none of the formatting. That post looks like heck now, but the problem is solved.

Okay, enough with rudely interrupting myself--it's time to get this show, er, post, on the road.

The holiday of gluten-free glee--or sometimes, oh, gee

We bought two boxes of gluten-free oat hand-made shmurah matzah thinking that we might be taking it to one of the sedarim to which we were invited, but, unfortunately, that seder was not to be. So we've been eating it ourselves. Personally, we don't care much for the taste. Gee, you really have to eat that stuff at the sedarim? Oh, well.

On the plus side, that same gluten-intolerant host absolutely loves the fact that such a large contingent of the right-wing Orthodox community insists on eating only non-gebrochts during Pesach/Passover. Since a huge proportion of Pesach baked goods are made with potato starch and/or ground nuts to appeal to the non-gebrochts market, this is one time of the year when it's easy for a gluten-intolerant person or an individual with celiac disease to indulge in cakes and cookies.

The first two days

I'm happy to report that the rabbi of the local Orthodox synagogue at which we attended both sedarim did a very nice job leading and explaining the seder. The food was pretty decent, too.

The rabbi being a "kol Bo" does have his limits, though. (The translation of "kol bo" is "everything is in him," meaning that such a person can do a little of everything.) While he's a good speaker and Torah reader, his knowledge of nusach is not necessarily as good as that of a trained chazzan/cantor. My husband and I were a bit startled to hear him use some Nusach Yamim Noraim (tunes traditionally sung on the High Holidays) for the b'rachah/blessing Ha-poress sukkat shalom aleinu (who spreads over us His shelter of peace . . .) during the Maariv/Arvit/Evening Service, not to mention the tune to Chanukah's Maoz Tzur for the Hallel HaGadol prayer during the sedarim.

I, myself, had a couple of minor quibbles specific to gender. On the first night, I noticed that all of the women (except little old me) sat in the last four rows of the women's section. I couldn't help feeling that I'd somehow stumbled onto a mehadrin bus, even though the choice of seats seemed to have been entirely voluntary. On the second night, I was the only woman in the women's section, which I found rather odd, since I was one of several Jewish women in the building at the time, and not all of them were caring for dependent children. Go figure.

All in all, though, we enjoyed the services and the sedarim, and would happily go back if in need of a seder in the future.

I'm also happy to report that the services in our basement chapel (aka "The Dungeon") on the morning of the second day of Pesach were much more pleasant than I'd expected. The room had been fixed up especially for the holiday. And the hot kiddush after service was a welcome change.

Chol HaMoed

  • Mistaken in the morning
No matter how carefully I looked, I couldn't find any mention of a korban/sacrifice reading in the Musaf Amidah prayer for the mornings of Chol HaMoed Pesach. Naturally, after Chol HaMoed, I looked again, and noticed that there was a korban reading marked "Last six days of Pesach." Boy, did I feel dumb. I've updated my notes so that I won't make that mistake again.
  • A mirror
We shared a dinner or two with an old friend during Chol HaMoed. Afterward, I asked my husband whether I ever completely monopolized a conversation the way our friend did. Being an honest guy, he answered "Yes." Oy.

But our old friend deserves much credit for being far more tolerant than I. Where I describe an individual as an annoyance, she describes the same person as "sweet." Where I see a rude person who listens to a sporting event on a pocket-sized radio while sitting at our friend's dinner table, she sees someone who's always helped and taken good care of elderly family members and younger friends. I'm far too judgmental (and getting worse with age), and would do well to emulate our friend's talent for seeing the good in people.

The last two days

  • The good news--the president found the Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs books
That was not a foregone conclusion, given his past history. But he found enough books that everyone had a copy.
  • The bad news--I'm beginning to think that I'm seen as a usurper
One of our long-time members did something stupid during the Torah reading, probably because he doesn't attend synagogue often enough to know how we do things, and I tried to correct him in order to help someone else involved in the same ritual. I got yelled at for correcting him in such a public and not-particularly-nice manner, and apologized. But what I found the most interesting about the incident was the audible griping of the president's wife.

This is not the first time that she's said nasty things about me in a audible undertone, and I'd already decided, on a previous occasion, to take a "v'limkal'lai, nafshi tidom/to those who curse me, let my soul be silent" approach. But it occurred to me, this time, that she may see me as having usurped the role that she'd expected to inherit from her late parents, who were both very active in the synagogue. In a way, we're in similar positions, she riding the coattails of her shul-president husband, and I riding the coattails of my "acting-rabbi" husband. Unfortunately, she no longer attends synagogue on a regular basis, whereas I'm there just about every Shabbat/Sabbath and holiday morning, so I'm quite literally a much more visible presence, and I suspect that she resents it. I assume that the only reason why the president tolerates me--or my husband, for that matter--is that he can't run the shul without my husband, because he can neither lead Mincha/Afternoon Service nor do the shul's accounting (albeit unofficially--see here, especially the second link and the comments).

Post-Pesach problem

During Pesach, I noticed that my husband was taking a prescription medication, and asked him what it was for. He responded that his back was hurting more than usual, but he didn't know why, and was just happy that the medicine was helping. "Nu, didn't you just take a bunch of boxes full of pots, utensils, and other kitchen stuff for Pesach off the tops of the bookshelves? Why should you be surprised that your back is hurting?"

Yep, the inevitable has finally occurred--the time has come for us to find another place to stash our Pesach stash. Between my husband's back problems and my weak wrists and balance problems, neither of us is in any condition to hop up on a stepladder and haul down our Pesach kitchen equipment and put it back up every April. Methinks we've just lost a large chunk of space on our bedroom floor. Oh, well.


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