Monday, October 12, 2009

A catalogue of Simchas Torah shtick

Neither Google nor Bing turn up a definitive catalogue of the various gimmicks and irreverences Jews commit in the synagogue on Simchat Torah, so I thought I'd try to create one here. Your input welcome.
  1. High Holiday tune for the first Maariv*
  2. Show tunes, or old standards, for the Chazan's part of Maariv.
  3. Auctioning off every honor of the day* to the highest bidder
  4. The gabbai calling someone up to read a verse of Ata Haraysa by his profession ("Mechubid HaCaterer Hagodol")
  5. The gabbai calling someone up to read a verse of Ata Haraysa by reciting the verse himself ("Mechubid HaCaterer Hagodol mit de posuk hashem melech hashem molach hashem yimloch l'olam voed")
  6. Completely removing the mechitza during hakafot*
  7. Putting a shtreimal on the person leading the hakafa* (You don't usually wear a shtrimal and a talis simultaneously, but the joke has more bite (not that its all that funny in any case) if the person being forced to don the shtreimal isn't hasidic)
  8. Blocking the torah's return to the ark after hakafos*
  9. Reading the torah at night to the High Holiday tune (Everywhere I know does this all day, too)*
  10. Someone taking an aliya and reciting the blessings using the "wrong" accent or pronunciation. (in a shtiebel the joke is to use a sing-song for asher notan lonu torat emet; in a Young Israel the joke is mumbling Borchee es heshem hamivoyrach and putting the accent on the wrong syllable of the word torah.)*
  11. The reverse hagbah at maariv (Some do it all day, too)*
  12. "Young Israel" tunes for Aleinu or Kaddish (Shteibles only)*
  13. Funny hats (I've seen cowboy hats, bucharin kippot, and fezes, among others)
  14. A shachris chazan in a formal cantors uniform
  15. Singing parts of shachris not normally sung, usually to out of context tunes (ie modernisha tunes in a shteible, hasidic melodies in a big shul)*
  16. Kids running around tying talitot together
  17. Lubovitch style duchaning (in non Lubovitch shuls)
  18. Stealing the kohens' shoes
  19. Calling up any boy who can read for an aliyah*
  20. Singing hamalach hagoel at kol nearim*
  21. Singing wedding tunes at chosan Torah and Berayshis.*
  22. Screaming out vayihi erev vayihi boker yom X in advance of the Torah reader.*
  23. Screaming out "Boreh Pri Hagofen" when the Torah reader reaches Yom Hashishi
  24. Neilah tunes at musaf
  25. Abuse of the baal musaf, including: tying him up, carrying him out, spinning him around, and dousing him with water at the prayer for rain. 
  26. Someone making a mezonos or shehakol blessing with the tune used for the kohen's blessing at the moment in musaf when that prayer would normally be said on an ordinary holiday
Everything on this list is something I've seen. The items starred were witnessed yesterday. How many of those are universal?

Search for more information about Jews and their shtick at

Follow me on Twitter

No comments: