Monday, November 07, 2022

Scenes from a synagogue

It’s Erev Purim, and a sizable crowd of adults and children have gathered for the chanting of Megillat Esther, the Book of Esther.  But this year will be a bit different—a few congregants have been recruited by the cantor and taught to chant portions of the Megillah.  Some read only a few p’sukim (verses), while others read an entire chapter each.  One congregant, quite irked, chides one of the readers:  “Why are you doing this?  We *pay* people for this!” 

Fast-forward about 30 years.

Congregant A:  “Maybe you should try leading P’sukei D’Zimrah.”

Congregant B, genuinely shocked:  *I* can’t do that!


Story #1 is what led to Story #2.


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


Blogger Shira Salamone said...

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Judith Naimark
Thank you for advocating for the obliteration of my profession. Just remember, the elimination of qualified professionals leads to the steep decline of synagogue music, to scriptural readings where the mistakes abound so much that it's not worth even trying to correct them, and a culture - as exists in a great number of synagogues - where the goal of chanting shifts from Havu Godel Latorah, "Give honor to the Torah," to "Feed my ego."
Yes, professionals should train members in synagogue skills, but synagogues also need professionals to remain present to give guidance and set a standard.
Last year at my congregation's reading if Esther, I was given only 3 chapters to do. Most were done by congregants, most of whom chanted from a book, not the scroll. One congregant, whom I'd never seen in shul, did several chapters, but chanted in Eichah trope, not Esther trope. The Cantor, who was kolbo at the time, realized he hadn't kept anything for himself, so he took on the 3 verses of Chapter 10, but didn't know the traditional special melodies for it.
The average congregant wouldn't know the difference, but to me, it was a Shanda.

Tue Nov 08, 04:22:00 PM 2022  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

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Shira Salamone
Judith Naimark , thank you for reminding me to mention that it's important to have trained professionals to teach the rest of us. It should be a partnership. The point isn't to have one at the expense of the other, but to work together to enhance the service and enable the participants. The more we learn from our teachers, the better!

Tue Nov 08, 04:23:00 PM 2022  

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