I went to Limmud NY 2011 and wrote a lot of posts about it. Here’s a guide to them.
The whole ballpoint pen service rating system thing started at Hadar on Yom Kippur when I was asked to stop taking notes in the margins of my siddur and asked to put a kipah on when I went up to dress the Torah. That full story can be read here. It’s big fun.
So I arrived on Shabbat morning to the Traditional-Egalitarian service (read: the Hadar service) on time for the beginning of Pesukei Dezimrah. A Hadar Fellow, Hannah something (also mentioned here), offered me the fourth aliyah. Given that it was Limmud NY and not actually Hadar, I fully intended to take notes as I usually do. And I did.
It turned out that this was the coolest aliyah of the year. I got to bless before and after the read of Shirat Hayam. It was big fun. The gabbai was Will Friedman (also mentioned here and here). Halfway into the aliyah, I realized that there was a ballpoint pen behind my right ear, as there usually is. Also, my head was naked.
It has come full circle, friends. And it feels good.
Also, Ethan Tucker (also mentioned here) read the fifth aliyah. Since I got to stay up there during the fifth aliyah, I noticed something interesting–Ethan does not use a yad when he reads. Rather, he uses one of his tzitzit. I thought it was pretty badass, or at least as badass a thing as one can do while reading from a sefer Torah.