Tag Archives: Jewish prayer services

An egalitarian, Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Ugandan service? Sign. Me. Up.

I just posted this on the New Voices Magazine blog and I thought y’all might be interested too:

Today, in New Voices Magazine, Carly Silver writes about Sephardic student life, or lack thereof, at Columbia University.

Though the picture is mostly bleak, one group mentioned in the article stands out, New Yachad City. Part of Columbia University Hillel, New Yachad City tries to create services that are more reflective of the diversity of world Jewry.

They lead student excursions to different synagogues around New York City, typically off the beaten path. They also host their own monthly service. This month’s New Yachad City Friday night service is this week and I think I’m gonna go.

Details:

Alternative, egalitarian, multi-traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service in Earl Hall on Friday, October 28th at 6 PM. Welcome in the Sabbath with Shabbat tunes from Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Bnai Jeshurun Synagogue, Abudaya Jewish community and much more. Experience Shabbat services in a different way and learn about world Jewry while praying! Everyone is welcome!

If you’re planning on coming, let me know in the comments.

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My post about Occupy Kol Nidrei at the Forward! (And more….)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’ll have a traditional me-style play-by-play of the service itself up soon. For now, here’s some stuff about the service that’s appeared elsewhere so far:

fwd osw post 1

The Forward is using my photo and story on the home page!

My post at the ForwardI’ve got a post on Forward Thinking blog about my experience at the service. This is the most concise assessment of the phenomenal experience you’ll get from me. (It was also re-posted by Haaretz!)

The Forward‘s video: Along with the post, there’s a great video from the Forward‘s Nate Lavey. I’ve see three videos from Occupy Kol Nidrei so, but this one is by far the best:

Jewschool: We’ve got several posts up at Jewschool so far.

  • Kung Fu Jew’s personal account of the service
  • I posted a copy of Getzel Davis’ excellent sermon, which include this winning bit: “What is the golden calf? It is the essence of idol worship. It is the fallacy that gold is God.
  • We’ve got two posts from Occupy Boston. There were also Kol Nidrei services held at Occupy DC, Philly and Chicago. I think we’re planning to have posts from those cities soon.

Religion DispatchesI love this site and I’m so glad they’ve got a piece up about Occupy Kol Nidrei. It’s an interview with Dan Sieradski, the organizer of this whole thing. There are a lot of interviews and bits of interview with him flying around right now, but this is the most interesting.

Get involved: There is now an Occupy Judaism page on Facebook. Go there to see what else is going on. There are plans for sukkot and for Shabbat services in the works.

UPDATES–

Avodah, The Jewish Service Corps: My friend Rachel Van Thyn, who I had not seen in a long time until I ran into her at Occupy Kol Nidrei, has a post on Avodah’s blog about her mixed, but generally positive feelings about the sercvice.

TabletThe Jewish Week and even Yediot Achronot (Israel’s largest print daily) also got in on the action.

“Core Issues in Jewish Prayer: Meaning, Spirit and Music” at Hadar

What alternate universe did I wander into where I get to say things like the following: After work today, I went to the yeshiva for maariv and a shiur with my friend Simi, who goes to Stern.

The yeshiva, of course, was Hadar, the flagship institution of the traditional egalitarian movement. And while Stern College is the all-girls undergraduate school of Yeshiva University (the flagship institution of ever-rightward drifting Modern Orthodoxy), Simi is a notorious heretic whose skirts end at her knees, rather than below them. She’s also the founder of the YU Beacon, YU’s third newspaper and its only co-ed newspaper. And I’m doing my part to contribute to her delinquency by bringing her to places like Hadar.

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

Anyway, we went to Hadar last week for part 2 of “Core Issues in Jewish Prayer: Meaning, Spirit and Music–A Signature Lecture Series by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and Joey Weisenberg,” which was taught by Elie. It was cool. The stream these things online, so you can check it out over here. Tonight’s video, stubbornly refusing to be embedded but screencapped above, is over here.

A few of Hadar’s copies of Yedid Nefesh, Josh Cahan’s bencher, were sitting out on a table tonight. I can’t figure out how to hyperlink this caption, but if you click on the picture it’ll take you to my review of YN from 2009.

For tonight’s lecture, the third and final of the series, Joey Weisenberg took over from Elie. Joey leads services over at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, the best kept secret about Friday nights in New York City. The lecture was also more singing and participatory demonstration than lecture. It was also held in a room I suspect of being a glorified closet. I took a lot of notes and it gave me a lot of food for thought. Here’s what I got:

Joey Weisenberg

  • We were seated in concentric circle-ish things in the smallest room ever. Joey maintained throughout that the small size was plus. I would usually agree, but this was a tad on the claustrophobic side. There’s a fine line between cozy and cramped. This was cramped.
  • I’m generally more prepared for kumbaya-type stuff in a service than I otherwise am. This was only barely within my usual threshold for kumbaya-ness during services. So for something claiming to be a lecture, it took me a while to settle in.
  • The first nigun was very slow to start, but once it gets going, it’s great. It’s been a while since I’ve been to KSS. I had forgotten how much I like Joey.
  • Simi is totally not into it. Her mouth hasn’t opened except to whisper to me that she’s just realized this is streaming live on the internet. Worse yet, we’re quite visible in the video. “I’m on a live stream?” “Yeah. There’s gonna be evidence.”
  • I’m singing along. I’m being a good sport.
  • Leaning over to Simi, “What, Stern girls don’t sing niguns?” “Oh, they do,” she says before trailing off.”
  • Joey hasn’t said anything yet. He begins: “My name is Joey Weisenberg. I’m a musician during the week and I like to sing a lot on Shabbat and also elsewhere.”
  • He talks for a while about the subject, then says that in music school he used to get frustrated when they’d talk and talk and talk about Mozart. “Just put the music on! Let’s listen to it.” This is his segue to some music.
  • He has a girl hold a high note. He then joins her, starting low and getting higher and higher and we’re all instructed to raise our hands when he matches her. This happens twice, semi-successfully. Then he enlists a third person.
  • He talks about whether we liked it better when they matched pitch or when they were almost matching, something about harmony and tension that I’m not quite following.
  • Then he does the pitch thing again.
  • He keeps saying things like, “The role music plays in the Jewish world is it helps us to tune into the world.”
  • You say the Shema, but there’s the music also, “to which we attune as a group to achieve some unity.”
  • Now he has everybody doing the pitch thing together. Simi is amused. I think it sounds like the THX thing before the movie. I’m not playing along with this part, BTW.
  • We don’t sound great, he observes, “but we’re getting used to the group and the room.”
  • “I’m working for the re-shtetl-ization of the Jewish world.” He means that we’ve gotten too slick, too impersonal and–this next bit is a recurring theme with him–our prayer spaces have gotten too big.
  • Now we’re doing some rhythmic stuff. One person is stomping. The rest of us are utterly silent. “We just one the battle. We all paid attention.”
  • Now we’re stomping in unison. Simi joins in!
  • We’re speeding up. Joey notes that groups have a tendency to get faster tempo and higher pitched over time.
  • “There is a guy next to the rebbe in the chasidic world whose job it is to bring it back down when it gets to fast.”
  • “Amazing. 40 Jews in a room paying attention to what we’re doing. If we could achieve this in prayer spaces, we’d really be on to something.”
  • Meanwhile, I’m wondering if the chit-chat isn’t an integral part of the Jewish prayer aesthetic. And I’m only half-joking about that.
  • Now we’re stomping every fourth beat.
  • Now we’re stomping every other 4th beat, which is not working at all.
  • “We want to rush it. We do that in services when we don’t know what’s going on, we go faster.”
  • I do that! If I’m lost, I just stay where I am, but start going faster and getting really anxious about being in the right place until it becomes clear where we are.
  • “We need to relax our services.”
  • We’re doing every other fourth beat again, but it’s working really well. The only difference is that Joey is very, very quietly whispering, “1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, etc.”
  • “I’m just whispering very little. The smallest amount of leadership from me is doing it…. We need clear signals from our leaders, but they can be very subtle.”
  • Back on the anti-big room thing: “Could you have heard me whispering across the room at a large suburban shul? No. We need closeness.”
  • He asks if we spread a string quartet out across a large space or spread out the logs of a fire. No. “Things that seem totally obvious elsewhere and yet, in this situation we instinctively blow it.”
  • Now we’re nigunning again. I’m not following this nigun very well–it seems to get louder, then trail off a little in some kind of pattern, but I’m having a hard time slipping into the pattern. Maybe that’s because I’m taking notes furiously.
  • Simi is having none of it.
  • I pause for a little while to focus on singing along.
  • Simi grabs my notepad and writes, “I feel like I’m in therapy- stop analyzing me!” “I’m writing about me too,” I write back.
  • Is this my whole problem, though? Do I analyze prayer during prayer too much.
  • He has the group doing a little clapping/stomping/patting beat thing consistently, while we continue with this complex nigun. But then he has our voices starting and stopping. He’s actually surprised by how well we recognize where we are in the melody every time he directs us to bring our voices back up.
  • “Point is, singing is not about making sounds…. It’s about trying to pay attention…. Music has the power to make us pay attention and that’s what we need.”
  • It’s an interesting point. We’re likely to actually say or read more of the words if there’s a good tune to say them to. I don’t know if that’s what he meant. Actually, I suspect it’s not. But I like it.
  • He says that the melody is irrelevant. A change in song won’t change the quality of what we’re doing, he says.
  • “Are we hearing ourselves and everyone else or are we waiting for it to end…. Those moments are the best davening moments, when you don’t need lunch” any more and you’re just happy to continue being there, praying and singing.
  • “The choir model sets us up for an expectation of perfection, but not in this [this cramped, everyone singing all at once] model.” He’s making lots of sense to me.
  • Then he says stuff like “Tune into each other’s energy” and I don’t what’s what anymore.
  • We’re singing. Joey’s not making a sound, but he’s rocking back and forth, shuckling in his seat. “Am I contributing?” he asks. Then he slouches and checks his watch. “How about now?”
  • One person says that he was at a shul with assigned seating on Rosh Hashanah, but knowing that he needed to be in the center of the action to daven properly, commandeered a seat closer to the front. He said he also knows that he has something to contribute to the davening, another reason to move toward the front.
  • I guess I’m quite different from that. I start thinking about where I sit at every place I’ve ever been a regular. I always sit all the way off to one side or the other, about 1/3 to 1/4 of the way from the front. Close enough to be in it, but far enough that I’ve got room to thing and, well, take notes like this.
  • We’ve been singing this same nigun for a long time and then the clapping begins. “Almost 40 minutes in, but then it begins…. If clapping begins immediately, the whole thing will be over in two minutes.”
  • “Where do words come in? This is working on its own.” He has us silent. “So if we get into the moment with music and then have the Amidah…” he trails off and stays quiet for a while. It’s eerily quiet. “Music is not about making noice, but drawing us in.”
  • Does anyone else find the pronunciation of nigun as though it is a verb, like “niggin’ ” unsettling and distasteful?
  • Now the group is listing off melodies for “Menucha Vesimcha,” some fast and some slow. The slow ones emphasize menucha (rest), while the fast ones emphasize simcha (joy).
  • “Does the melody need to match the meaning of the words?” someone asks. Joey’s noncommittal. He says that of late he’s been shying away from singing words at all, just filling in between prayers with nigunim.
  • One person points out that a lot of people think that the tune that has become universal for Aleinu is inappropriately bright and bouncy.
  • Another person disagrees, saying that it’s appropriately triumphalist.
  • I jump in: The meaning is important. If we use aesthetics to enhance meaning, even sit on par with it, we’re fine. But if we allow them to supersede and run roughshod over the meaning, we’ve missed the boat.
  • One person, Joey says, looking skeptical bored or whatever can ruin the whole thing. That’s often me, I think. Simi tell me that’s her right now.
  • Abruptly, we’re back to the nigun: “This is called the Hadar nigun, so it’s a good one for us to know.”
  • And now we’re standing up, still singing, louder and louder. Simi: “Seriously?” Me: “Goodness gracious.”
  • And then I notice that she’s started singing!
  • After, on the subway, Simi gets of at Times Square and I continue on to Penn Station. Alone with the strangers on the subway, I realize that I have the nigun stuck in my head now. The same one that we were singing all night and I couldn’t figure out at first is stuck in my head.
Good night.

What if I did one-day yom tov, but went to shul on day two anyway?

Reports of my complete departure from the Reform ideological fold have been greatly exaggerated. I’m not backing away from doing one-day yom tov this year, though I’m tempted to test drive two-day yom tov sooner or later. But I have been thinking about how to attend a second-day RH service and participating as fully as I can–all without compromising my one-day values.

(Some background on an approach to two-day yom tov that I’m particularly fond of can’t hurt, so here’s BZ’s material on it: Israelis are lazy, “ONE DAY ONLY!” parts 1a, 1b and 2, “Ontology of yom tov” and “Hilchot Pluralism, Part VIII: Simchat Torah.”)

Anyway, I’m writing this as I figure out how to do this. Here’s my thinking so far: On day two I could go to shul and the only two things I’d really have to do differently is say a weekday Amidah while everyone else does their RH Amidah and recuse myself from Musaf.

And since any piyutim and whatnot are just that, I could play along with those just fine.

Right? Does that make sense?

Recent acquisitions: Chaim Stern’s later works; new editions of Mishkan; ‘Singlish’; a skinny red thing; and a Russian siddur with transliterations!

I got some new things! There will be more stuff on some of these later on, but for now, here’s the rundown:

A skinny red thing

This little Kabbalat Shabbat hardcover pamphlet sort of thing, quite creatively -titled “Siddur Kabbalat Shabbat” is used on Friday nights at Beth El. They got it because it has a basically Conservative liturgy, but it also has transliterations to an extent that Sim Shalom does not. They do this musical Kab Shab thing sometimes and I suspect they expect a less Hebrew-literate crowd at those services for whom transliterations are a welcoming feature.

Two new editions of MT

When I interviewed CCAR Publisher and Director of Press Rabbi Hara Person in her office for this story a while back, she also gave me these two goodies. One is the World Union Edition of Mishkan T’filah, which we previously speculated about here. The World Union Edition might be more correctly referred to as the southern hemisphere edition, as it’s mainly for the smaller anglophone Reform communities in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The other is MT: The Journal Edition, a new(-ish) educational version of MT that leaves the left side of each spread either blank or offers questions and space to write reflections.

I will definitely have more on these and more from my interview with Hara for y’all one of these days.

A Russian siddur with transliterations!

My mom went to Russia a little while ago and came back with this charming souvenir. There are actually Cyrillic transliterations in this thing! It turns out it’s easier to learn how to read Russian than I thought. That is, if you already read Hebrew. Because that one letter looks a lot like a Shin…

In the Hebrew there, it says “Tehilat Hashem.” Whether you know Cyrillic characters or not, it’s pretty easy to make that out in the transliteration too.

“Singlish”

These (left to right, top to bottom: Kol Nidrei, a bencher, Friday night, Shabbat morning) are part of the “Singlish” family of prayer books by Joe Lewis. I recently inherited these. They seem a lot like my beloved Eit Ratzon. I’m gonna keep digesting these and I’ll get back to y’all with more on them soon.

Chaim Stern’s later works

Neither of these acquisitions are actually all that recent, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about either one here.

Anyway, on the right is Paths of Faith. Chaim Stern created the draft that became this siddur to replace Gates of Prayer. The CCAR decided it wanted to go in a different direction and created MT instead. So Stern kept at it and Paths of Faith was eventually published elsewhere. Unfortunately, it was published posthumously.

On the left is The New Light Siddur, a siddur that Stern helped edit for a congregation in New Jersey.

OK. That’s all. Shanah tovah.

Shabbat Notes, 9/24/2011: Dad’s visit; Gospel music in musaf

My dad is in town. He and I usually talk on the phone at some point on Shabbat to fill each other in on any particularly excellent bits of chaos we witnessed in shul that morning. He’s also a reader of this blog, so his visit would not have been complete without a visit to Beth El. He rightly told me that he approved of the level of chaos.


In musaf this morning, the Christian gospel tune, “Lord Prepare Me,” was on the march again. I’ve previously discussed the tune’s increasing use in Jewish worship here and here. I’ve encountered the use of this melody several times, though this use of it is new to me. Today Cantor Perry Fine used it for the musaf kedusha. Eschewing the usual call-and-response-and-repetition style, he led us through the prayer in unison to the tune of “Lord Prepare Me,” from the beginning–“Na’aritzecha venak’dishecha…”–through “Baruch kevod Adonai mimekomo.” Then we proceeded to the the tune of “Erev shel Shoshanim” for a while.

Also, I had an aliyah. More on why that happened sometime next month.

Shabbat Notes, 7/30/2011: Three Kaddish Yatoms!

This is a short one, but I just have to mention this:

This week, we actually had a minyan when we got to the Kaddish Yatom that we usually flip backwards for before the Torah service. So we did it then. Fine.

Then we got to the Torah service… and did it again. Of course, we also had the one at the end of the service.

For a grand total of three Kaddish Yatoms.

Shavua tov.

A post about me, Beth El, this blog and Trotsky

After services this morning, as people were milling around, in the aisles and generally preventing everyone who wanted to get out of the sanctuary from doing so, Rabbi Roston introduced me to someone who said, “Oh,” in a knowing fashion. The rabbi turned to me and said, “She’s read your blog.”

“Is there anyone left here who hasn’t?” I asked. She said a few older people probably haven’t. “So people who don’t know how to use a mouse?” I asked. She laughed. She also said she read the post about the old family siddurim and liked it.

Then, once I was at kiddush, a guy called Avram (or Avrum or Abram–I’m not sure of the spelling) introduced himself to me and asked if I was the Reform Shuckle guy. He’s been reading for about a year (hi!) and he also reads Jewschool and New Voices.

He said he likes the reviews and was looking forward to what I would say about services this morning. But I told him (as per my ongoing battle with foot-in-mouth disease) that I’m trying to avoid detailed posts about Beth El. Of course, then I went off and wrote this post, so we can all see how well that’s working out.

On a more random note, I also met Beth El Rabbi Emeritus Jehiel Orenstein this morning. He told me about how his father was a Romanian who worked for Trotsky, touring Russia by train with a film that was used to recruit men when they were creating the Red Army. So that was insteresting.

Shabbat Shalom.

P.S.– So that whole Week of Things I Like idea didn’t totally pan out. I trust you’ll all live.

A Week of Things I Like, Day 2-ish: Beth El

On Sunday, I said this week was gonna be A Week of Things I Like on this blog, that I would only say positive things all week and that I would post once a day this week.

Here we are on day three and I already missed the second day’s post. And, as regular commenter Larry Kaufman points out, I was also unduly self-critical in the first post.

Anyway, I like Beth El, my new shul here in South Orange. Here are some of the things I like about it:

  • I like that, as I pointed out in my first post about Beth El, their spirit of welcoming is great.
  • I like that they make extensive use of lay leaders in all their services. Initially, based on a sample size of only two weeks, I assumed that Shabbat mornings were more lay-led and and Friday nights less so, but they’ve already got me signed up to lead a Friday night service in August.
  • On a related note, I like how well-trained their lay leaders are. They all really know their stuff and they come from a broad range of ages, which, if I had to guess, is indicative of a great religious school.
  • I like Rabbi Francine Roston and Cantor Perry Fine. By the end of the first Shabbat morning I spent there, Rabbi Roston had reached out to me and asked if I wanted to help lead services ever. By the end of my second Friday night at Beth El, Cantor Fine had also asked.
  • I like that, according to this JTA article that I can’t seem to find anywhere other than at the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, when Rabbi Roston was hired in 2005, Beth El became the largest Conservative shul ever to hire a female as their senior rabbi. (According to the article, Beth El had 575 member families at the time.)
  • I like that, according to Google Maps, it’s a four-minute walk from my apartment–if that.
  • I like that there are a number of rabbis in the congregation. As I’ve previously mentioned, the head of ARZA is a member. Beth El’s rabbi emeritus is also in regular attendance every week and so is the provost of JTS.
  • To continue my reportage on my chronic case of Foot-in-Mouth disease, I like that a number of them seem to have found this blog and have called me out on things I’ve said here. Most recently, one member of a group of men I previously identified as “the peanut gallery” jokingly informed me that I had assessed them incorrectly. Actually, he told me, they are “the judges panel.” I like that too!
  • I like that I’m feeling challenged by Beth El. It’s good to feel comfortable within a routine at a synagogue, but it’s also good to feel a little challenged. So, to turn my whinging about wearing a kippah on its head, it’s good that going to Beth El is forcing me to wear one because it’s challenging.
  • I like that going to Beth El is forcing me to confront the fact that there are things that I like about Conservative Judaism… which may make a whole post of its own later this week.

To make up for my laziness yesterday, I’m gonna do another post tonight for day three of A Week of Things I Like.

Beth El week 2, now with more chazanut!

I was back at Beth El for Shavuot and again tonight. Tonight was similar to last week’s Kabbalat Shabbat, but more remarkable for its differences.

Last week’s was led by Rabbi Francine Roston, who conducted the service with a minimum of commentary and uncomplicated music (I called it boring in last week’s post, which may have been a tad strong). I can’t recall if she gave any sort of devar. And she led the whole thing standing on the same side of the shtender as the the congregation–that is, she faced the ark, her back to us, which I prefer. When you face the congregation, you sing at them. When you face the same direction that they are, you are leading them, as their representative.

Tonight’s leader was Cantor Perry Fine. Fine, as it so happens, has taught Russ Jayne at JTS. (Russ is a cantorial student and the beloved musical leader of Chavurat Lamdeinu.) So Fine and I had a nice chat about how great Russ is on Shavuot.

Anyway, Fine led this service with a tad more commentary than I’d like and more varied–though, as you’ll see, sometimes more overpowering–music. He also faced us, which may have been part of what encouraged him to talk to us so much.

I also have some new observations about the set up of the smaller chapel space at Beth El. The chapel is wider than it is long, so the chairs face each other in a wide semi-circle facing the ark, with a podium/shtender in the middle. If you have any more than 25 or 30 people in there, as we did on Shavuot, the chapel is a good size. It feels neither vacant nor packed with that sort of attendance.

However, on Friday nights–based, mind you, on a sample size of two weeks so far–it’s too big for the crowd, which is closer to a dozen than to 20. It’s big enough at that point that everyone can sit with several chairs between them and the next person in each direction, which is not good for ruach. My guess is that setting up chairs in a close circle that excludes the podium thing might be a better setup for Friday nights at Beth El.

We were also using an odd little siddur tonight. I borrowed a copy–with Fine’s permission, of course–so there I’ll have more on the siddur later, hopefully tomorrow.

  • Accessibility vs. musical prowess: Fine conducted most of Kabbalat Shabbat in a manner similar to Roston, in that it was first-line-last-line nusach for most psalms. However, Roston’s simple approach to the nusach made it  possible for me to sing along, while Fine’s chazanutasticness became overwhelming at times, preventing me from mumbling along. Accessibility vs. musical prowess shouldn’t be a trade-off, though it unfortunately often is.
  • Nusach vs. Carlebach: I loves me some Carlebach, so it was nice to have some in this service for some of the usuals like ps. 29. Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out where the syllables in the words fit within the melody with Carlebach and there were times when Fine let the melody fall on a different syllable than I’m used to, which tripped me up.
  • Unfamiliar, slow and hard: Lecha Dodi was the first of several things that Fine sang beautifully, but to slowish tempo and unfamiliar tune, making it hard to follow.
  • Mourners: As with Roston last week, Fine took the unexpected step of actually pointing out an individual mourner at the end of Lecha Dodi and having us all say “Hamakom yenachem… etc” to them.
  • English? Fine added some of the sort of commentary I quite like for ps. 29, explaining why it’s there. Which was nice. Then we read it in English, which was 100% unexpected.
  • Lewandowksi? Lewandowski is one of those composers I could never match with a tune until tonight. Before singing Tzadik Katamar from the end of ps. 29, Fine talked a tad a bout Lewandowski and how he composed this famous Tzadik Katamar. It was neat.
  • More weird tunes: With Ahavat Olam, we started to reach a fever pitch of slow, unfamiliar hard to follow tunes. This continued with Hashkiveinu and got real bad at Mi Chamocha.
  • The Bat Mitzvah girl and a bizarre Shma: Tomorrow’s Bat Mitzvah girl (she’s have hers at mincha/maariv/havdalah tomorrow) led the first to paragraphs of the Ve’ahavta, then we continued silently for the third one and then we actually read the fourth one out loud, in Hebrew. Not chanted, but read. It was quite unexpected.

That’s extent of my noteworthy observations about services tonight. Overall, twas good and I’m still enjoying getting to know Beth El.

ALSO, I hesitate to mention this because it confused the hell out of me, but Fine told me afterward how nice my voice is and asked if I’d ever been in a choir. I was flabbergasted. I know nothing about my voice and tend not to think too highly of it. More on this development later. I think.