Monday, September 10, 2012

Awkward situations

Two Jews, three opinions, and/or grammatically incorrect?
A few months ago, an Israeli-American acquaintance corrected my Hebrew--he said that the correct term for Jews of Middle Eastern/West Asian origin is B'nei Adot haMizrach, not B'nei Edot haMizrach.  Okay, apparently this is a classic case of "two Jews, three opinions."  :)

He later informed me that the correct Hebrew translation of "tradition" is "masoret," not "mesorah."  Maybe, maybe not.  Just about every complaint I've read on various blogs about women violating "tradition" even when we're not violating halachah (Jewish religious law) by, for example, leading the Kabbalat Shabbat service, has used the word "mesorah."  My Hebrew-English dictionary translates "tradition" as "masorah"--note the change in vowel--but, on the Hebrew side, translates the word "masoret" as tradition.  Go figure.

Most recently, though, my Israeli-American acquaintance startled me by stating that the correct Hebrew for Pilgrimage Festivals is Sh'loshah R'galim.  Folks, I returned to regular synagogue attendance almost 40 years ago, and in almost 40 years of being a "shul regular," I've never heard the Pilgrimage Festivals called anything but Shalosh R'galim.  When I told this to my husband, he replied that Sh'loshah R'galim is grammatically incorrect because "r'galim" is an exception to the rule--it's a feminine noun that takes a masculine ending.  Um, how does one tell an ex-Israeli that his Hebrew may be a bit rusty?

Sad :(
Our High Holiday chazzan/cantor, who stayed in our neighborhood for Shabbat/Sabbath in order to lead the Selichot service, is sufficiently strict in his kashrut observance that he asked to be served his imported-from-a-glatt-kosher-caterer Shabbat dinner in the synagogue because he didn't trust the kashrut of our kitchen--presumably, he thinks that my husband and I don't keep our oven sufficiently kosher to be "eligible" to reheat his food.  That wasn't a problem.  The problem was that the attendees of the Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv/Arvit/Evening Services on Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve (Friday evening) generally enjoy a small Oneg Shabbat of tea and cookies after the services, and the dinner was being served in the usual Oneg Shabbat room.  An elderly congregant suffering from senile dementia simply couldn't understand that only a few congregants had been invited to keep the chazzan company and that there wasn't a place at the dinner table for him.  I found a pretext to go to the kitchen, and told the employee charged with serving dinner that I'd rather share my meal than put the poor old man in such a position, but she said (and showed me) that the president had purchased exactly enough food for the invited guests, and that she was under strict orders not to serve dinner to anyone else.  The best that she could do was to bring some tea and cookies for the other service attendees, which she did.  I wish we could avoid such situations.

All the wrong tunes
Our synagogue's president, having already hired a High Holiday rabbi, took the unusual step of also hiring a High Holiday cantor because our regular chazan is experiencing some health problems.  Unfortunately, limited funding forced him to hire someone with very limited experience.  Even more unfortunately, our Sefardi High Holiday cantor, judging by the way he led our Selichot service, has only a limited knowledge of the traditional Ashkenazi nusach for the Yamim Noraim/High Holidays.  Our regular cantor and my husband ended up leading some of the prayers that we usually sing, even though neither was, technically, the baal tefillah/prayer leader for Selichot and both were singing from wherever they were sitting or standing.  I expect this to be a memorable Yamim Noraim, but not in a good way.  To me, it isn't the Yamim Noraim unless I hear at least some of the High Holiday tunes that I've known for decades.


Anonymous Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

It's amazing how many people can't envision the High Holidays with the wrong tunes. I remember the first time I spent Rosh HaShanah at the wife's shul and spent half the time thinking "No, this isn't the tune!"

And it is Edot. And Masoret.

Thu Sep 13, 11:02:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Re tunes, so true, Garnel. I'm one of many people who count on hearing the "oldies but goodies" on the Yamim Noraim.

Edot and masoret sound right to me. Whether they sound right to everyone else, well . . .

Thu Sep 13, 05:33:00 PM 2012  

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