If I were going to be in Brooklyn for more than a month, the Kane Street Synagogue might very well be the place I make my usual home for davening. Like last week’s shul, Kane Street is Conservative, but lively.
Kane Street’s Friday night service is wonderful because of it’s intimate location and small size. I counted about 25 people in the small room, arranged in a semi-circle around a prominent wooden shtender. Around the shtender hovered six people when I walked in. All seemed to be relatively in charge, though one was obviously more in charge than the others, Music Enrichment Director Joey Weisenberg, currently studying nusach with a chazan somewhere.
He’s strikingly handsome and has an odd, shy charisma to him. He bangs loudly on the shtender as he leads the mostly Carelbachian service, rocking back and forth ecstatically. He leads from Sidur Sim Shalom, announcing page numbers occasionally as he goes. Whenever he announces a page number, one of the other people around the shtender annoucnes a page number for the other sidur in use, Sidur Chaveirim Kol Yisrael, the Friday night companion to my sidur of choice, Siddur Eit Ratzon. Aside from Joey and the woman with the page numbers, I could discern no particular purpose for the other four people around the shtender. Then, as Kabalat Shabat was nearing completion, a guy came in late, and made himself the seventh member of the shtender cluster. During the closing song, a raucus rendition of Yigdal which everyone belted out together, an elder statesman of the group got up and made himself shtender cluster member number eight.
I appreciated the age mix in the crowd. Joey himself looked to be in his mid-20s, while the rest of the crowd included a young couple with their baby, a few older couples, and a group of single women in their 20s.
Let’s stop right here for a moment. This is just about everything I look for. Not only is the liturgy complete and somewhat liberal, but people are actually bothering to have a community diverse enough that it uses two differen sidurim. Unfortunatley, Joey lead the Me’ein Sheva with avot and no imahot, which is kind of a no-no in my book, but that is my only complaint. Add to the style and the liturgy the low level of chaose floating about the shtender, and you’ve got a good mixture in my book. I grew up at a synagogue that revels in its constant low-level hum of chaose during services and I’ve come to expect it.
In retrospect, perhaps that’s one thing that irked me about B’nai Jeshurun last week. BJ seemed so orchestrated, so well-practiced that the human element seemed to recede into the concert-like atmosphere. And while we’re on the subject of BJ, you’ll recall my bitching and moaning about the sermon I was subjected to at BJ last Friday night. At Kane Street, the same elder stateman who flung himself at the shtender during Yigdal told a fine little story from some Chasidic Rebbe or the other before Ma’ariv started. It was all well and good.
After services, I chatted with Joey about all manner of things, including this blog. Joey, if you’re reading, drop me a comment on this post and say hi.
Afterward, I had a Coke. Not a bad erev Shabat, all in all.