Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Death of a sales pitch (synagogue-style)

Jan. 3, 2023 update:  I hadn't thought of this as a four-part series going all the way back to June 2022, but here it is:

~ Tuesday, June 07, 2022's A weird Shavuot
~ Sunday, November 06, 2022's A gentle warning re synagogue viability 
~ Monday, November 07, 2022's Scenes from a synagogue 
~ Part four is below.

Once upon a time, my husband served as acting rabbi of our synagogue, delivering “sermons” almost every Shabbat (Sabbath) and Pilgrimage Festival.  For 12 years, he read every d’var Torah he could find online, referred to a few books (special thanks to Richard Elliott Friedman), and developed some well-prepared divrei Torah (“sermons”), then encouraged congregational discussion. 

In more recent years, as my husband and I began to discover new Jewish “spiritual” music (see my Wednesday, November 27, 2019 post, Our goal: To help our synagogue become a singing community), he and I thought it would be a good idea to introduce some new Jewish music into the service, so we did.

But age and stress, from not only giving divrei Torah but also leading P’sukei D’Zimrah, serving as a gabbai, and chanting roughly 60% of all haftarot, finally caught up with my husband, so he retired at the end of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  We took a one-month shul-hopping “vacation” after his retirement.  This past Shabbat was the first time since Yom Kippur that we attended services at our local synagogue. 

It was . . . interesting.

My husband’s carefully-prepared d’vrei Torah and the congregation’s discussion have disappeared, replaced by a five-minute (or less) sermon.  The connection between a World-Series baseball player and Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Patriarch), anyone?

As for new music, only one of the half-dozen-or-so songs that the two of us introduced to the congregation is still included in the service.  Much to my surprise, it isn’t Debbie Friedman’s Mishebeirach, which I had thought was the congregants’ favorite.

I guess we were not very good at “selling the program.”  :(


Added later, to enable readers to follow the whole story:  See my previous post.


Here's a later note, added Jan. 3, 2023, as a reminder to me and as an explanation for my readers: This was the last straw that cause my husband to start thinking about retiring as acting rabbi.


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