On the tip of my tongue

Kesher Israel had their “social shabbat” yesterday, and we were treated to a couple of people we knew and several we didn’t. It was an enjoyable affair, and the conversation lasted until after minha time (!)

One of the treats was getting introduced to a new wine: Le Moure De L’Isle Rouge 2009 – fabulous, and has a delightfully complicated character.

Interestingly, there was universal agreement among those who regularly attend KI (6 of us) that tefillah (prayer services) is entirely too fast: one attendee said “with my yeshiva education, there is no chance for me to come close to reading the prayers at the speed the congregation says them.” I’ve noticed that when I bring this up, most folks seem to agree – I’ve only had about two people say that they liked the speed or that it should be faster. I’d put my knowledge of Hebrew prayer up against those two any day – it’s the people who know oodles more than me who say they can’t keep up. One suggestion that was raised was to basically start timing a couple of the critical parts of the service (sh’ma, silent amidah) – I think this is a fabulous idea, and could really take some of the personality out of the issue. I say “personality” because some of the congregants are more of the “force of nature” types rather than the go-along-get-along types, and if the change could be less about individuals and more about improving the ability of the average person to keep up, that would work better. Another suggestion was to revisit the stuff the kids lead (aleinu, ein k’elokeinu, shir shel shabbat, etc) and get them to quit doing the “stand there for some small number of seconds, and then say the last line” thing. Honestly, they “read” hebrew faster than I can read English – and I am a quick reader.

Another issue which was brought up was that several of the attendees had attempted to join the synagogue, and no one had reached out to help them get the process finished (!), and others hadn’t ever had anyone explain why they should join. Those aren’t visitors – they had all been in the community for more than a year – so I look at that as a significant gap in the approach currently taken.

Hopefully I’ll get some traction agitating for change in these types of matters…

Of course, the things I like far outweigh the things I don’t – yesterday I was in a conversation with pair of folks at kiddush (social “hour”) which discussed the chemical process by which baking soda and baking powder worked, and we were all using our almost-remembered freshman chemistry to try to deduce the reaction. Avidan was the one with the answer, and that was pretty cool.

About thegameiam
I'm a network engineer, musician, and Orthodox Jew who opines on things which cross my path.

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