Thursday, October 09, 2008

Synagogue Shuffle

Last night I persuaded my kids to join me for the Kol Nidre service (the service that starts Yom Kippor). It has been a few years since I last attended the evening service and I thought the kids might appreciate it now -- if not from a religious stand point then from a musical one.

This particular service is one of the most moving and most beautiful of the year and the melody to the Kol Nidre prayer is simply breathtaking when done well.

Fast forward to the end of the service, yes they appreciated it, particularly the parts played by the cellist. Yes, part of Kol Nidre was perfomed on the cello. Obviously we are not orthodox.

Between the start of the service and the Kol Nidre prayer, we were approached by the head usher who asked if Squidette or I could help out in the balcony* for 20 minutes or so -- they were short ushers. As we had Little Squid with us, Squidette agreed to go while I stayed in the sanctuary with Little Squid.

Squidette did not return. At some point I was informed that my daughter had opted to continue with her ushering duties upstairs so I sat back and let myself get into the rest of the service.

When the service ended, Little Squid and I waited for Squidette to come downstairs and, after waiting quite a while, we finally went upstairs to help her clean up and reshelve the prayer books.

As we finally made to leave I offered our services for the following morning (Squidette and I had ushered for Rosh Hashanah services both this year and last year) and our offer was enthusiastically accepted as they were not quite sure of the reliability of some of the volunteers. When we arrived this morning, the head usher decided that the three of us (Little Squid was along for the ride) would have the balcony all to ourselves. And so we did. With hundreds of congregants.

At one point this morning, Little Squid commented "It's like a real life Diner Dash," refering to how quickly we were finding seats for people (it was 45 minutes into the service and people kept coming) and handing out the prayer books.

What I discovered today is that my son is just like me. He thrives on this kind of thing. Even without breakfast.

Once again my kids made me proud. Squidette seated people on her own (it involved asking others to make way and asking if seats were occupied by people in the bathroom) and she held her own even though those she was working with out aged her by at least 20 years on average. One congregant came right up to me and praised her. Little Squid held his own when people tried to push past him when they should have stayed in the back (during certain parts of the service we do not seat people). Me? Well I showed how graceful I am when I missed two steps at the bottom of the balcony and took a magnificent spill, catching myself against the metal railing. I will have some nice bruises on my arm and side tomorrow and my foot is a bit stiff from the turn. But I'm o.k., really!

It was a good day and my caffine / no food headache is just about gone. That said, I will not fall asleep tonight because of the naps and late consumption of caffine.

* Our synogue used to be a movie theater and the seats in the balcony are still movie theater seats on steps (hence my ability to miss the two narrow ones at the bottom). For large services like on the high holy days congregants sit in the main sanctuary, the balcony and the auditorium adjacent to the sanctuary where the portable wall opens up so that people can see and hear. There are also services for newer members in the basement and the clergy moves between the services. Then there is the fact that we run early and late services that are identical. There are that many congregants and they are all "high holy day" Jews.


Anonymous said...

I hope you ankle heals up quickly.

You have high holy day Jews. We have C & Es. It's amazing how annoyed they get when they can't find a "good" seat.

They wanted to know WHY we didn't build a larger santuary. Well, maybe it's because we only need the extra room two days a year!

Penny said...

Even in our shul we have seat wars... though our numbers are much smaller (there's only so many you can fit in).

may you heal quickly and completely and may your children continue to give such simchas and grow into such beautiful amazing people!

may this be a sweet, healthy, happy, peaceful year for us all.

Cookie said...

I hope you're feeling better today.

They really are lovely children, ya know. xo