Sunday, August 30, 2009

new terminology

Folks -
While sitting through a very miserable shacharit yesterday, I realized that it was time to introduce a new terminology/concept to the NusachFreak blog. I'm sure all you readers are now very familiar with the gong. Well today, I'd like to introduce the concept of KTC.

A bit of background: My father, Avi Mori, (who should only be well) decided in early middle age that he always really wanted to be a cellist (after having already been trained as a pianist). Let's just say he is no Yo Yo Ma. Fo years, my father has awoken early in the morning to retire to a back bedroom in the house and practice his beloved cello. For anyone awake at that hour and has heard his cello playing, the phrase KTC or killing the cat will come to mind. His playing is a cross between the sound a cat would make while in heat and the sound a cat would make while slowing being tortured.

As I mentioned above, yesterday's shacharit made me think of ktc. The chazzan's nusach wasn't too bad, his singing was. For some reason, everything came out very shrill and pained. Then during kedusha, someone with an equally irritating nd shrill voice started singing along leading to a duet of ktc. Meeeeeeeeeeeeow.

In a more humorous vein:
The gabbai of our shul doesn't speak much English. Pticha was given to a recent anglo oleh --- while the Torah was being taken out of the aron, the gabbai realized that the yad (called an Etzbah in Israel) was not hanging on the Torah. So the gabbai turns to the recent oleh and say, The finger, give me the finger!!!! Awesome.

Shavua tov,

the NF

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shabbat in Venice, CA

As noted in my last blog, we just spent the last 2 weeks in chul visiting family. Last shabbat found us visiting the NF's wife's family in Venice, CA home to the weirdest shul in the world.

A quick clarification: in my last blog I described a woman rollerblading into shul during musaf wearing a bikini. This did in fact happen a number of years ago but the woman was not the rebbetzin.

All the way to shul Shabbat morning, my father in law kept asking me if I wanted to daven...I didn't because I wanted serious material for the blog. The sacrifices I make for you, the nusachfreak readers.

Shul was everything I was hoping for and more:
1. During psukei dezimra, three different gabbaim gave out shacharit to three different people. It was amusing to watch three guys head up to the shtender all at once until the Rav declared that he himself would daven. Shacharit itself was actually pretty good nusach wise although the Rav used a melody for kedusah that no one other than maybe the rav's great grandfather would have recognized. Akward! But melody selection has been discussed before....and now we have more amusing things to discuss.
2. The Torah was taken out and then the fun began. There was a bar mitzvah...and as I saw the bar mitzvah boy get up there to lein, I knew we would be in for some fine gonging.
3. The Rav first announced that he and only he would be allowed to correct the bar mitzvah boy. When the rav has to make such an announcement, it is usually indicative that the boy shares something in common with most college football players--- he doesn't know how to read.
4. the rav then announced that the boy comes from a Levitical family and that because there were soooo many Levites in the room, they would be using the halacha that one can continue to call up Leviim for shlishi, revii, chamishi as long as you have not called up a yisrael yet. I had never heard of this but who cares because when it came time to call up shlishi, the gabbai messed up and called up a yisrael. Doh!!!
5. the bar mitzvah boy couldn't read. There was not a pasuk without a grammatical or serious trop error. Gong. However, given the poor reading, I was thinking that we were dealing with a public school kid who was doing his best. I asked the NF's shver where this kid went to school. "Oh him?, he goes to ____ Academy, the largest Ortho day school in the area." Gong. Yaamod ____ the son of disappointed parents, Maftir.
6. They called the Rav to the Torah for Shishi. As only he could correct the bar mitzvah, he slowed the bar mitzvah boy down so that the rabbi could eye-scan a pasuk from a chumash, have the boy misread it and then correct him. It was a long aliyah. Gong.
7. When it came time to call the bar mitzvah boy to the Torah for maftir, the gabbai thought he would do a rendition of yaamod, yaamod etc. except the gabbai couldn't sing. The yaamod came out to the melody of the howdy doodie show. Gong.
8. There is no eruv in Venice so the candy they throw at the bar mitzvah boys is reused over and over again. The Sunkist fruit jellies looked like they were about 10 years old. This didn't prevent the NF's two older children from eating about 10 each. Yuck!
9. Someone forgot to teach the Bar Mitzvah boy to read the haftara so someone else got up there to read it (with the bm only making the berachot) but then the Rav realized that no one had bothered to teach the boy the berachot so the rabbi whispered the berachot (before and after) in the bm's ear. Gong.
10. Baal musaf thought he was was a professional chazzan. He wasn't. You know those guys that roll their "rrrrs" thinking they sound chazonish? This guy did that and sounded stupid. His nusach was the pits and every three words had its own submelody making a mish mash of the davening. Gong.
11. Kedusha was the worst. First the guy used that annoying American Naaritzcha melody and then he proceeded to use it again for every other part of kedusah (it doesn't fit). Gong.
12. At this point, the NF's son was complaining of a bad stomachache (I would have had a bad one too had I eaten 10, 10-year old sunkist jellies) and so I decided to go. I missed the sermon which I'm sure included the phrase "Authentic Torah Lifestyle" (doesn't that sound like a condom brand?). The announcements at the shul are usually pretty weird too (Pres of the shul: "Bob got out of prison this week and he is really looking forward to being with us for Shabbat next week.") but I just couldn't take anymore.

It's good to be back in the Holyland...

The NF

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Hey Boys and Girls -
Sorry for not having posted in ages. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen in shul but it has been a rather boring summer.
The NF is currently in chutz laaretz visiting family. I spent this past Shabbat with my parents in a small mid-western community and davened in thier irritating local yokel shul (not the yekke shul in which I grew up). I was sure that I would come away with some good blog-fodder being that the davening there usually sucks and the baalei kriah don't really know dikduk but alas, I was dissappointed. The NF was asked to daven friday night. Then there was a bar mitzvah Shabbat mornign so a fairly good baal tephilla davened shacharit. I figured with an American bar mitzvah boy leining we would get a few gongs in (especially given that this past week was one of the highly gongabe parshiot) but alas, the bar mitzvah boy didn't lein and instead an Israeli doing his residency at a local hospital leined insraed, nailing every trop and shva nah/nach. Humph. There was nothign to complain about in musaf either. Only slightly amusing story: the gabbai -- originating from the deep South -- doesn't understand a word of Hebrew. Given the large number of guests in for the bar mitzvah (and a shabbat chatan), numerous hosafot were added. The gabbai kept callign each one up as acharon in this heavy Southern drawel. made me crackup. Hey, it was a slow shabbat. Oh and one other thing, after calling up both the bar mitzvah boy and the chatan, the Rabbi led everyone in an awkward, "we are Jewish, this is how we dance" dance around the bimah. Can't these people get lives?

This coming Shabbat we are out on the West coast and should be davening in the weirdest shul in the US (in Venice, CA). I really hope something bizarre happens --- for example, a few years ago a woman came roller blading into shul in the middle of mussaf wearing nothing other than a turns out it was the rebbetzin.

the NF