Friday, September 25, 2009

Opposite of Top Yom Kippur moments (2009 version)

In no order:

- The Auction Service. I hate that the shul is turned into a shuk every Yom Kippur with the addition of a sixth service, i.e. the holy Auction. I also hate the justification provided by greedy shul administrators. Skipping the auction may "leave money on the table" but since when is collecting money the highest value? There are many things a shul can do to raise money - poker night, strippers, adverts on the paroches, indulgments - that are not done because they are an offense to deocrum or to the standards a shul is meant to represent. The same holds true of the auction, in my opinion, and it should be skipped. [More]

- The ArtScroll encouraged idea that "[The piyutim are] infinitely more than inspired poetry." Why can't we just enjoy them as poetry?

- The appeal after Kol Nidray. For once I agree with ArtScroll, that its foolish to "fritter" away the awesome post-Yom Kippur moments with an appeal for some institution or another (I make an exception, of course, for a legitimate hardship case, but the post Kol Nidray appeal is usually for the local yeshiva or for the shul itself, and not for the widow with 9 children, or the out-of-work guy who's about to lose his house.)

- People who read or "learn" all day and complain about how boring shul is. Will you please kwicherbellyachin'? Please? (This is attitude, I've found, is more common in shtiebles, and its usually the people who identify themselves as "very frum" who think its holier to learn when the rest of us are praying.)

- Chazzanim who use new tunes for the piyutim. Call me an unreconstructed traditionalist, but I don't want to sing Maaseh Elokim to the latest Shweky hit. (And though I recognize that some of the more "traditional" tunes were likely Russian drinking songs before we appropriated them, that isn't what they mean to me, and significance is subjective.)

- People who sit when the aron is open, or refuse to get down on the floor with the rest of us during the Avoda, or Aleinu. It never fails to shock me that some people are really that lazy. (of course, I don't include the very old or the very fat or the disabled in this criticism. I'm speaking of the healthy middle-aged men who have energy enough for softball on Sunday, but no strength to demonstrate simple respect for their surroundings on Yom Kippur.)

- Women who skip out on most of the services. I understand about kids, and I excuse mothers of young children, of course. What I do not excuse is this new feminine practice of skipping shul, and it is new. According to "Life is With People" a definitive sociological study of the prewar shtetel everyone went to shul, and stayed for most of it. Wives didn't saunter in for a few minutes of musaf and then disappear until Neila They sat in shul all day just like their husbands. It's bewildering that the new frum practice is to excuse women from services, and perhaps those of you from other sects and other communities will say that your women still come to shul, but from what I have observed, female attendance, even on Yom Kippur, is on the decline.

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