Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughts from the Sanctuary, Part II*

a.k.a. "They flocked like sheep..."

You're supposed to confess on Yom Kippur, holiest day of the year for us members of the tribe. You're supposed to lay it all out on the table, evil thoughts and whatnot, and forgive others so you can move forward in peace and all that blah blah.

Yeah, yeah. Poker chick was guilty of cynicism last year. She'll work on this. Really, she will.

But in the meantime, she's betting that many of you reading this shared similarly sacreligious thoughts. C'mon, 'fess up! You know you'll feel better. Then read this, so you can relax knowing others are even more deranged than you are.

Kol Nidre. It's the service that starts the holiday. Even the once-a-year Jews are there, meaning the temple is more packed during this one service than it will be any other time during the year.

Now as with many other things, the experience is uniquely intensified in New York. If you want to attend a Kol Nidre service, here's what you have to do:

1) Line up with hundreds of other people in suits in the special tents that take over any sidewalk space touching the temple. Walk slowly around the red velvet dividers as if you're waiting to ride Space Mountain. Watch laypeople stare at this sight with amusement. Make growly faces at them.

2) Go through the first set of NYPD officers. Pass.

3) Get to temple volunteers. Show tickets for everyone. Pass.

4) Go through the next round of security. Private security guards with those cool secret service earthingies. Open your pockets, bags, diaper bags for full inspection. Pass.

5) Get your seat. Fidget endlesslessly as there is less legroom than even economy class seats.

Eventually, the service begins - and somehow on time. This is when you're supposed to pay attention. This is also when your mind starts wandering.

"Wow, I wonder how many people are in this room! It's gotta be a thousand or more!"

"What's with the cello? I thought the cantor was supposed to sing this portion?"

(counting heads)
: "One, two, three, four......"

"I can't believe I didn't make the cake yet. 15 people coming for Break the Fast tomorrow and I'm going to have to cook while fasting. Again. Hey G-D, can you help me to plan in advance next year? Hey! That's one thing I can work on! Look at that, I'm already paying attention!"

"Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty....."

Tire of cantor's repitition and flip through the pages to see how much longer is left for tonight.

"Three hundred seventy-eight, three hundred seventy-nine, three hundred eighty...."

"I'm so thirsty. How am I not going to drink until tomorrow night? How did I do this before? How does everyone else look so calm? Aren't they thirsty?"

"Seriously. What's with the cello? What happened to not being allowed to not play this stuff on the Sabbath?"

"My head hurts. Oh cr*p, what if it becomes a bad headache? Do I take tylenol? How much water can I sip with tylenol before feeling guilty? What do the books say on that?"

"What the heck does Superman have to do with Yom Kippur?" (sermon reference)

"What are those people doing? They keep moving around. You're supposed to be paying attention, peeps!"

Pause to note irony of criticizing others in your head while struggling to pay attention yourself. Make mental note to atone for this tomorrow.

"Nine hundred one, Nine hundred two, Nine hundred three"

"Cr*p. I lost count. One, two, three...."

Finally, it's time to go home. As you wade through the NYPD officers blockading the building once more, you try to decide whether this massive police presence is comforting or creepy. After all, NYC is full of Jews. Is this really necessary?

Then you do the math:

1,000 Jews in one room + NYC location = Bin Laden's wet dream.

Guess we'll go with comforting after all. Thanks, NYPD. Keep up the good Jew-herding work!

*Click here to read Part I.


Anonymous said...

Holidays? Bah Humbug!!

bernthis said...

One big reason I stopped going to temple was b/c on Yom Kippur one year the din of the congregation was so loud the rabbi had to stop in the middle of his sermon and ask everyone to stop talking. It was so hypocritical and I just thought this is bullshit and didn't go back for over 15 years. But now I am and it was a lot better this time. New State, new synagogue and we had a piano and a guitar. Oy vey

Gray Matter Matters said...

They really do need a kibitzing section.
When I was young we were "super Jewy" now we've practically become Protestants. No more Kol Nidre (I really didn't need to hear the President's appeal for funds due to a leaking roof of a synagogue I don't even belong to."
My new synagogue is awesome--and only 180 families, soooo, I think it's time for you to call me for a tour o' the 'burbs!!