Tuesday, June 07, 2022

A weird Shavuot

My husband reminded me that I first learned to lein the third chapter of Megillat Ruth (the Book of Ruth) when we were members of the SAJ, so I’ve known it for at least 30 years.  But this year, I didn’t get a chance to lein it, because one of our co-congregants protested that it wouldn’t be fair for me to chant the chapter in Hebrew when they, an Israeli-American, would be the only congregant who would understand it.  Everyone else has been willing to read along in the translation all these years.  Why this became an issue this year is an interesting question.  In any case, I guess there’s no point in me practicing leining Megillat Ruth anymore.😢

It gets better, quoth she sarcastically.

The good news is that we actually had a minyan by the time we were ready to do the Torah reading, which isn’t a given, these days—we have to read the Torah reading from a Chumash roughly half the time.  The bad news is that my husband, who's the acting rabbi, couldn’t get a single soul to carry the second scroll.  So, for lack of an alternative, I had to do the job myself despite the fact that I’m still in physical therapy from having injured both knees last September.  So there we were, a 73-year-old with bad knees carrying a 25-pound scroll and an 80-year-old carrying a 35-pound scroll.  (We haven’t attended an in-person Simchat Torah celebration since Fall 2019, so I haven’t carried a scroll in literally two and a half years, and I’d forgotten what a challenge that is.)

And, of course, since my husband couldn’t get anyone else to *carry* the second scroll, he couldn’t get anyone else to *lift* it, either, so he ended up being the magbiah for both scrolls, too.  Yep, in our shul, 80-year-olds do the heavy lifting.  😠

And lest you think that there’s such a thing as rest for the weary, he had to chant the haftarah, as well. 

By the end of the service, we felt as if we were carrying the weight of the shul on our shoulders.  Overworked and underappreciated:  that's us.  (Added Jan. 3, 2023:  Did I forget to mention that my husband also gave the d'var Torah/"sermon"?  He went home after services totally exhausted, and slept for three hours.  Now you know why he decided to retire from this "job.")

We were rescued by the Parks Department, of all people.  While we were taking an afternoon walk, we noticed that a giant movie screen had been set up in the local park—it turned out that they were doing a free public screening of “Encanto.”  So we ended our Shavuot outdoors under the stars watching a movie.  That was the most fun we’d had all day.  What a way to end a holiday.

See my November 8, 2022 update, Death of a sales pitch (synagogue-style).


Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Jan. 4, 2023: It's possible that the congregant who didn't want me to chant a chapter of Megillat Ruth thought that I was "showing off" quite enough already by co-leading P'sukei D'Zimrah with my husband. (Heaven forbid that an ordinary congregant, a mere layperson, should be some remote semblance of knowledgeable.) They may also have resented the fact that we were trying to introduce new music into the service. (Heaven forbid that the congregants might actually join us in singing and help us to help our shul become a "singing community".)

The congregant might also have been displaying some concern over changing gender roles. In our synagogue, both men and women have resisted the increased role of women in public Jewish ritual, particularly in the past. I'm not sure whether that congregant would have objected if my husband had been the one chanting from Megillat Ruth. I think some congregants resent my visibility, at least partially because I'm a woman.

Wed Jan 04, 11:24:00 AM 2023  

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