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

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