Monday, October 11, 2004

Last week, before Simchat Torah, I wrote this:

An argument is raging in the shul, by email of course, about how best to celebrate Simchas Torah:

The drinkers want a long kiddush.
The Yekkis want 7-minute hakafos, and they want them timed via stop-watch, by a gabbai authorized to enforce the time limit using pistols, if necessary.
The caterer wants kiddush after davening, not after layning.
The octo and nonagenarians want raisins in the stuffed cabbage.
The women want to dance.
The teetotalers want to ban the booze
The whiskey-snobs want to ban blends.
The old-timers want things the way they always were.
The newcomers couldn't give a hoot.
The YU alums want to liven things up by importing YU boys for the holiday.
The natives are insulted at the suggestion that it isn't lively enough.
The proceduralists want a board meeting, and are shocked (!) shocked (!) that shul policy is being discussed and set via email.

At least the emails are polite.

So what actually happened? No one argued in shul, I am happy to report. Even the Yeckis kept their pistols holstered when the hakofot passed the ten and even 15-minute mark. The drinkers appeased the teetotalers by keeping themselves under control. The alta cockers got their raisins. The woman who wanted to dance went to the social hall, closed the door, lowered the blinds, and, for all I know, slaughtered a goat. Kiddush was after davening, but cake and whiskey was available after layning.


Another problem, we avoided was, what I guess could be called, the "battle of the bands."

There are several factions in the shul and each faction has its own anthem. The YU boys, for example, don't consider their hakafot complete without a lathered round of Simcha l'Artzecha. The West Coast crowd, for reasons known only to themselves, favors Emes, Emes she' Ata Rishon. The psudeo-chasidim don't like songs with words. Some of us think Carlebach was a 20th century Mozart, and some of us think he and his songs have no place in a shul. Also, we didn't all go to the same camps or the same youth groups or the same schools. As a result, we don't all know the same songs. Starting a song, therefore, to accompany the hakafa can be difficult; after all, it's no fun when part of the group refuses to sing, or frowns blankly at the song selection.

Nonetheless, it worked out and delicate negotiations were not required. Sure, some of the psudeo-hasidim sat for Carelbach on principle, no one but the YU boys altered the last words of Simcha l'Artzecha to glorify R' Yitzchak Elchonon's school, and only the non-hasidic-Brooklyn ex-pats risked whiplash throwing their kids into the air for Moshe Emes. But there are seven hakfot, and, in all, more than 100 minutes of singing and dancing: Plenty of time for every petty sub-faction to do its own thing, and plenty of time for all of us to sing and dance and celebrate Judaism and Torah together, as one kahal, as one congregation. Which is what happened.

If we could overcome our differences, and respect -no, revel in - our diversity for one day, maybe there’s hope for us yet?

Tomorrow: How was Simchas Torah, around the corner, in the shteeble?


Is anyone suggesting unrolling the Torah scroll? That's a huge part of our simchat Torah celebration. When unrolled fully, it fits perfectly around the outside walls of the sanctuary. We all help hold up the parchment and readers go around and read passages and give a short drash. Is this not part of your celebrations? (By "your" I mean Adam and his readers...mostly Orthodox from what I gather.) I'm assuming if it IS part of your celebrations that women are nowhere near the scene...  

Glad your Hakafot were leibidik. We went a bit fast on Simchat Torah because it was erev Shabbat, only to have to wait an hour for lunch until the women's tefilla group got done(yes my VLW(very learned wife) is part of one).  

Slaughtered a goat?  

But did the women get to dance with a Torah?  

The woman took a sefer torah into the social hall, and were instructed, by the Rabbi, to leave it on a table and dance around it. The doors were closed, and they ain't talkin' so who knows? Still, we trust women. They say the food is kosher, and that the mikva was visited, and we take their word for it, don't we?

We started at 8:15 because it was Friday and went till 2pm, in part because the baal shacris, a person who's name shall remain, well, Adam Ragil, likes to sing.  
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