Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Well I was wrong. The Poobahs of the Shteeble weren't pushing expansion; nonetheless, the meeting was heated and angry and I left feeling cheated.

In the shteeble, we sit at tables. Each table seats about 5 men, and we sit facing the front of the room. As you can guess, the tables take up some space. Each one is about 6 inches wide, and made from a good, firm wood. They look nice, and, best of all, they contribute to the illusion that the shteeble is also a house of study.

But we have a problem: the shteeble is full. For the last several weeks men have been standing in the aisles, and, as the neighborhood becomes Christian-rein the membership will certainly swell. A meeting was called to discuss solutions.

The Grand Poobah took the floor, and dropped a nuclear bomb. He proposed eliminating the tables all together, and replacing them with benches. This suggestion was not received with smiles and happy faces.

Here are some highights of the learned discussion that followed:

"How can you have a shul without tables!"
"When we agreed to join this shul, we thought we were getting tables!"
"My father was one of the founders of this shul, and believe me, he would have wanted tables!"
"What are we, all of a sudden? A church?"
"What does the Rabbi say?"
"I can't belong to a shul that doesn't have tables!"

You could tell the GP wasn't expecting to be rebuffed so forcefully. You could actually see his brow begin to quiver, and the beads of sweat begin to form. Chastised, he asked for compromises.

"Let's sit face-to-face!" answered the crowd.

"But if we do that, half of the congregation will be sitting with their backs to the front of the shul," the GP replied.

"We don't care," roared the crowd.

The GP asked for comments.

And so, with the Rabbi's comment regarding whiskey-gate ringing in my ears, ("We can't be too safe") I stood up.

to be continued

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I promised a post on shul politics, I know, I know. I have a story to tell about whiskey, tables and chairs, but the muse is failing me. The words just aren't organizing themselves in my head or on the page.

Here are the basic facts:

The shteeble has become a Whiskey-Free-Zone. Why? Because of that Jewish Action article from last month, of course. The article suggests that distilleries might be mixing the whiskey with wine or other non-kosher blenders"We can't be too safe," announced the Rabbi, and so whiskey is banned from the shteeble until further notice.

Our local drunks are simmering, and also learning: Rav Moshe's views on the subject are being furiously argued and studied in person and via email, even as they make unpleasent remarks about the limits of the Rabbi's authority. So, as the Rabbi might say, " it can't be all bad." He likes it when people study Torah. No doubt, he's pleased to be the stimulus.

Meanwhile, the shteeble is also trying to grow. At best, the shteeble seats 100 men. On a typical weekend, this isn't enough. Not nearly. And as the local non-Jews continue to flee, the problem will become worse and worse. A Membership Meeting has been called, and expansion is on the agenda - or rather it would be, if meetings in shteebles actually had agendas. I'll be attending, but without my checkbook.

There's a connection here between the whiskey and the crowding in the shteeble, I just know it. By tomorrow, I hope to have found it.

Still evaluating...

The author of the best comment will be announced tomorrow. Meantime, you're welcome to vote.

Monday, October 25, 2004

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