Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Howling at the moon

The time: 5:13 PM, just minutes before Shabbat was to end this past week
The place: The street corner where we daven on Motza"sh because we are too lazy to walk an extra block to shul
The weather conditions: Very windy and very overcast

So Big Yoni Posselizer (formerly known as Yoni R) crosses the street and says "it's my favorite time of the month --- we get to do a "We are Jewish, this is how we dance" dance at the end of Maariv". The Big Posselizer is of course referring to the completly uninspired shuffle that 4 or 5 guys do at the end of kidush levana while singing "טובים מאורות". This shuffle, which is distantly related to the "White man's overbite" from When Harry Met Sally, is performed by this small group of men for anyone of the following reasons:
1. They want to delay for as long as possible going home to their wives and children.
2. It is their monthly form of excercise.
3. They like touching other men.

There was just one problem. YS led maariv and becasue he insisted on saying all the words, by the time we got around to kidush levana the moon was no longer visible behind the cloud cover. So the NF (who does not join the טובים מאורות shuffle although avoiding his wife and kids for an extra three minutes on Motzai Shabbat would probably be a good idea), the Baltimore Chop and The Big Posselizer are standing on the corner pointing up to the spot where the moon should be, looking like a bunch of imbeciles. The NF then called upon the Lord: "Oh Lord, Please Moon Us!" But to no avail.

He who answered our forefathers, did not answer us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A taste of childhood

Very rarely, a smell, taste or sight can bring back a stong memory of  childhood. A video posted on youtube 2 days ago did just that...

The video shows the KAJ (Breuer's) Choir singing ובנחה יאמר  by Japhet. Hearing this melody brought back such a strong memory of  time spent in our little yekke shul as a kid that the NF literally could taste the Kedem Malaga kiddush wine and Schnecken cookies served at the Shabbat Mevarchim kiddush following musaf. 

While the NF acknowledges that his little yekke shul was far from perfect, I have many happy memories from going to shul as a kid. I must wonder what associations are being created in my the 4 little NFs' heads going to a "vanilla" Israeli shul and hearing timless classics such as Avini Avini.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A positive experience

So the NF's mother in law was in town for a couple of weeks and as such , she requested that we go away for shabbat. Without giving away too much information, let's just say that the greater NF family headed to the North of the country to a hotel that caters to the religious population.  Knowing my own personal experiences in the past as well as after hearing about Dr. D, physician's largely negative experience at hotels, the NF did not have high hopes for Shabbat....

Upon entering the lobby a couple of hours before Shabbat, we were greeted with 4 just-out-of the army guys singing unbelievable a capella. And then I knew everything was going to be all right.

Upon arriving in the hotel shul a few minutes before shabbat, I was happy to discover that the aforementioned 4 guys were actually a choir (מפתח סול) brought by the hotel management to accompany the hotel chazzan.

A few years ago, an anglo tourist asked me what my favorite place Israel was. Among my top 5: The arrival hall at Ben Gurion airport. Huh? I'm sure you are asking. Yes. The arrival hall at Ben Gurion. The NF loves the happy buzz of families meeting returning children who have only recently been released from Japanese/Thai prisons after being caught traficking drugs. The NF loves the family of olim who made aliya 30 years ago and still dresses that way, awaiting savta to come off the plane. I love the charedi guys who have just travelled for 12 hours, walk out of the baggage claim area with a shtreimel box and a duty free bag with 30 boxes of ciggarettes and 3 bottles of scotch trailed by their wives pushing a cart with 19 pieces of luggage and holding 13 children.   I love seeing the tel avivi/chiloni kibbutznik pick up his girlfriend and start playing tonsel hockey the moment they meet. (Get a room!) Friends/family from all walks of life are greeting their loved ones and in the excitement of the moment everyone forgets how much they can't stand one another. Sure the fights will start when everybody gets home. But for the time being, it's all dvash (honey).

The NF loves seeing the Tel Avivi, the moshavnik, the kibuttznuik, the charedi, the dati leumi all happy and sharing a common ground.

That's exactly what the NF felt as a chazzan accompanied by this marvelous choir started a very nice carlebach kabbalat Shabbat. The NF felt this way because there were Jews from all walks of life in the shul. Dati Leumi, Chabadnikim, Chasidim in bekkeshes and shtreimels, Lithuanians in frocks and hats, sephardim, a  few masoratim and even some chilonim wearing nothing but loin clothes (I'm kidding  for those of you with no sense of humour) sharing the moment and participating by singing along.  In truth,  the chazzan himself was not my cup of tea, but he was more of a baal tephilla/wedding singer than a "cantor" and his nusach was very good. What made kabbalat shabbat one of the nicest I ever heard was that choir.

Dinner was delicious, the kids behaved and we all went to sleep by a reasonable hour....

The Chazzan led mussaf the next morning again accompanied by the choir...of course the NF knew what was coming after the haftara --- Avinu Avinu and it sounded something like this (the guys were once in the Army rabbinical choir). The NF can now admit it. I actually like Avinu Avinu when it is sung by a group of guys that give it some kavod. (Unlike the yodeller, Shloime Baruch and Mendy). then it was time for Mishaberech for chayalei Tzahal .While the chazzan read the tephilla the choir hummed על כל אלה . Cheesy but very pretty.

Things did start breaking down during musaf and a few gongs were given out. The choir harmonized Keter beautifully to the melody of.....................

Somewhere over the rainbow. Gong!

and for mimkomo, they hamorized even more beautifully to the melody of.................

O sole mio. Gong!

But the NF so enjoyed hearing the choir that all was forgiven....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A breakthrough

The Yodeller davened musaf this past week. Thankfully, he didn't sing Avinu Avinu but then in kedusha he decided to yodel....As usual it was slightly off-key, full of repeated words and uninspiring. When the NF went to wash his hands before birkat kohanim he saw that "David Wallaby", a self-described hazzanut mumcheh was davening at our shul. So the NF asked if he recognized the yodeller's yodel. Apparently, the yodeller is trying to imitate an uber-famous hazzanut work composed by Leible Glanz. There are just a few problems with the yodeller's rendition:

1. Unlike Leibele, the Yodeler does not have a chazzan's voice
2. Unlike Leibele, the Yodeller is singing unaccompanied by a choir
3. Unless you really like chazzanut and Leibele Glanz's compositions and the chazzan singing has a really really nice voice, the said melody will give you a headache.

Here is a clip of Chazzan Netanel Baram singing the composition (not badly I must add -- I just don't like chazzanut). (When the NF played the you tube clip for Mrs. NF this morning, she covering her ears and started yelling "make it stop", she then started twitching and speaking in tongues.)

In summary, we have discovered what is behind the yodel and the yodeller is clearly guilty of cantorial self-gratification.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Guest Post - By Dr. D, Physician

Dr. D. called the NF early on in chol hamoed to let me know that material had made itself available at  Tel Aviv hotel on the water.

We, the gonging community, appreciate Dr. D's thinking of us while on holiday and providing us with this guest post.


Emboldened by his recent award of a golden shtender, Dr D, physician, went with high spirits to a top hotel in Tel Aviv for Succot. Actually Dr D should point out that that the NF awarded 4 golden shtenders for Yom Kippur, which given that there are only 5 services reduces the meaning somewhat but Dr D is still delighted.

Now, the NF has already written about hotel minyanim, but the events of Succot were so terrible that they need documenting in order to warn future generations.

On Shabbat Chol HaMoed, Dr D decided to attend the hotel minyan as he could not be bothered to walk 15mins to the shul he was familiar with. Also, stuffed with pastries, cheeses and coffee, the walk to the hotel shul was difficult enough let alone beyond....There was a sense of foreboding as the hotel chazzan (whose voice resembled a stuttering sheep according to a relative) has a bad habit of incorporating his two sons (pre-pubescent) into the davening. Dr D has strident views on Jewish music - basically, Jewish music is bad enough, but sung by boys is excrutiating. Hearing pre-teenage boys screaming high notes all pronounced in that heavy oy-de-doy asheknazus makes Dr D pray for deafness. More on that later. Meanwhile, one of the obviously affluent Americans in the crowd did Pesukei Dezimra- and SANG most of the post-Ashrei paragraphs. By 'sang', he actually had figured out tunes to things -including applying Mizmor LeDavid for the latter half of Nishmat - huge huge gong. What next?? Rabbi Yishmael omer to Tov Lehodot Hashem?!?! This is the problem of letting rich people daven. Too many people suck up to them and let them get away with nusach-acide.

Shacharit- an Israeli led this and it has to be conceded that he was good so onwards....

Mussaf -cue the Chazzan and his two sons who sounded like strangled cats -really - terrible. Boys -like Jewish music should be seen and not heard (actually,not seen either).

But the piece de resistance - yes - Avinu Avinu with the two strangled cats humming the HaTikva at the end.

The gong was bashed to pieces.


thank you Dr. D.

--- the NF

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Post Simchat Torah Write up

As many of you may recall, the NF is not a fan of Simchat Torah. However, this year's festivities passed without too much discomfort.

the NF and family attended evening hakafot at the local yokel shul --- nothing too offensive occured --- just a lot of men going around and around in circles and women looking on bored. Simchat Torah morning, the NF headed over to the early minyan (start time: 6 AM).  The early minyan was standing room only...and very fast. The gabbaim told the chazan for shacharit that he was allowed to sing no more than 2 songs -- hakafot lasted 5 minutes and we zipped through leining. Baal Musaf (Tefillat Geshem) did a nice job and the NF went home (at 8:15 AM) with a big smile on his face.

Adding to the fun was Yoni R's shtick...in a  November post from last year,  the NF mentioned that if one were to perfrom shtick on Simchat Torah it might as well be original --- like putting peanut butter in the Cohanim's shoes during birkat Cohanim...When the NF finished duchening in shacharit, he went to put on his shoes only to find a surprise as placed there by Yoni R.

The following is a photographic reconstruction of what I found....
....the note inside contained my aforementioned blog spot with my peanut butter suggestion highlighted. Way to go Yoni R.

Given Yoni R. consistent  dedication to this blog, the board has voted 5 to 2 to change his blog psuedoname to something cooler than Yoni R. I request that, you the readers, provide me with feedback on what that cool new name should be.

the options:

1. the Artist formerly known as Yoni R.
2. Big Jim R.
3. Statler
4. The Stam posselizer

A couple of additional items...

Last night, the Baltimore Chop told me of a terrible occurence....At the main minyan at one of the shuls in the neighborhood, the baal koreh, Rabbi Tom Hagen,  sang kaddish before maftir to take me out to the ball game. Gong. Simchat Torah is not Purim. No Cracker Jacks for you.

and although we have a year until next year's chagim --- here is an awesome version of kol nidrei as sung by Kol Achai.

--- the NF


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A guest post

Moadim L'simcha to all you gongers...
while wishing you all moadim l'simcha I am reminded of when I lived in NY many moons back --- the NF noticed that new york jews are not good listeners and often hear what they want to hear. So on shabbat, I would greet all those of the Hebraic persuasion with a merry "Flannel Pajamas" (instead of Gutt Shabbes)....if the person had a kippa sruga on their head, I would say " I'm from Rome" (instead of Shabbat Shalom). No one ever beat an eye lash.

So when greeting someone on chol hamoed, I could have said, gutten moed or moadim l'simcha....but the NF wanted to see if anyone was actually listening....so every time I passed a "yid with a lid", I would mumble the name of a billionaire --- such as Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet....not once did anyone question what I had just said and instead mumbled something back at me....still not sure what.

So Rupert Murdoch to you all.

The NF prayed in his local yokel shul on the first day of chag --- "Slow as Molasses" davened shacharit and was well, slow as molasses. "H" Davened musaf in his usual  eyes closed, impossible to sing along with sort of way. Nothing too offensive, nothing really to gong.

Meanwhile, the Big Gong attended the early minyan both on the first day of chag and on shabbat and came away shaking his head...

While lunching over at the big Gong's this past shabbat --- while reviewing the general state of affairs (if any of you have heard the great lashon harah coming out of London you will understand)--- I suggested that the Big Gong again provide us with a guest blog.

Here it is folks:


We had the pleasure of the NF’s family in our sukka today and after discussing two of my recent visits to the early minyan he suggested I write a guest post.
I had on the previous two occasions attended the highly efficient and usually highly pleasant early minyan in the locality. Shabbat’s proceedings passed with very little, if anything, to gong. The Baltimore Chop led a flawless shacharit. I particularly enjoyed his “Hodu la’Hashem”, although I couldn’t name the tune, let alone find you a youtube link. Yoni R read Kohelet and simultaneously provided me with the best 23 minutes of sleep I have had in a long time. Musaf passed quickly and without notable incident, particularly as the baal tefilla was clearly playing out of position by davening nusach ashkenazi.

I wish I could say the same about first day chag. Roger Mellie  was asked to daven shacharit. He was guilty of too much singing for this particular minyan, in fact he was guilty of too much singing. It did the job I suppose, but the piece de resistance came at the end of the hoshanot. I thought at first my ears were deceiving me, but I listened again, and it was true.

Roger was belting out the “Victory Kaddish”.

On first day Sukkot.
After an unexceptional shacharit.
I shot a glance at Yoni R whose gnarled facial expression confirmed that he was hearing the same thing. For two days now I have been thinking of an explanation for Roger’s actions. But one eludes me. Some things in life are sacred, and amongst them is the RH/YK nusach. No longer it seems. Gong.

Musaf started with a rousing “Yekum Purkan” (this was chag remember, not Shabbat), and upon being heckled to go straight into the Prayer for the Queen State of Israel, the baal tefilla quickly followed with an equally rousing “Sorry” (in English) to the kehilla. At least we had a laugh to carry us through the rest of davening. Gong.

As disarming, and frankly unforgiveable, as that victory kaddish was, it gave the NF and myself hope. Hope like we haven’t had since that Pesach when someone confused Adir Hu with Maoz Tzur during Hallel.

Od Yishama b’arei ha’shefela u’vechutzot Modiin, kol sasson v’kol simcha, kol ha’gong v’kol ha’golden shtender.

I leave you with a little something to celebrate Julie Andrews birthday next week:

Thank you Big Gong. The NF may be getting another guest post this time from Dr. D after a painful experience at a local hotel over the first days of chag. In addition, I will try to respond to AddeRabbi's Yamim Noraim post.
Moadim L'simcha or Warren Buffet or something.

--- the NF

Sunday, September 19, 2010

y"k round-up

the NF wishes the greater gonging community a שנה טובה and hopes that everyone had an easy fast.

And the golden Shtenders go to:

1. To Dr D., physician. Dr. D davened musaf yesterday (after leading kol nidrei the night before) at the neighborhood vatikin minyan and was superb.
2. To Dr. Blue. The NF got to shul for mincha, got his talit and Depends on and waited for the yodeler to make the kahal crap itself. But alas, the yodeler got to shul and told the gabbaim that he did not want to daven. The gabbaim had to scramble to find a replacement and asked Dr. Blue  to step-in. With no prior preparation Dr. Blue had perfect nusach, was fast and finished 7 minutes ahead of schedule.
3. To the Big Gong for his outstanding  16 minute psukei dezimra at the vatikin minyan and for refraining from telling me any rude jokes during the avoda (after numerous mikveh jokes erev y"k). After shul yesterday morning, the Big Gong went over to Dr D and said: "of you, me and the NF (who davened a 2-hour shacharit), who do you think was best?" you were, Big Gong, you were.
4. To the gonging gabbai --- for all his hard work over the chagim even if some of his baal tefilla selections were absolute bombs. Shkoychi.

As mentioned above, the NF led shacharit  at the vatikin minyan (start time: 4:50 AM) which was a bit tricky. After getting through hamelech, I realized I had 7 minutes to get from barechu to גאל ישראל to hit נץ החמה. I turned on my special NF turbo engines and we hit it right on time. The NF did have to use a very fast melody for אל האדון, specifically the Carelbach לשנה הבאה בירושלים, which had the surprising effect of getting people singing at 5:15 AM.

The NF's melody selection:
אתה הוא אלהינו -- Naa'r Hayiti (For the record Yoni R, who continues to remind me that he is the only person on the blog without a cool pseudoname, told me that it was a kitsch selection) ---- with three part harmony from YS and Dr D.
היום יכתב- Mochel Avonot
אמרו לאלוהים - a large assortment of melodys including yachad, shomrim mafkidim, boi v'shalom (Carlebach) etc.
מעשה אלהינו  - the London Yom Shabaton. I thought a lot about Marc Weinberg z"l while we we made our way through this piyut....we always sang this melody when our families had shabbat lunch together.
על ישראל - v'haviotim
האדרת והאמונה - the Seudah shlishit melody
קדושה -- from kvodo through shma yisrael, the Breslov Lecha Dodi.
שמע קולינו -- from Al tashlichenu etc I used the high part from lev tahor....
אנו עמך-- tzamah nafshi
אבינו מלכינו זכר רחמך -- prok yat anach
ואני תפילתי -- the NF "borrowed" YS's idea of using Baruch El Elyon...Luckily Mrs. NF wasn't there to scream at both of us for using too many shabbat melodies in the middle of Yamim Noraim davening.

for the record the NF really missed hearing YS's neilah....As noted in a prior post, the gabbaim didn't want anyone to have a chazaka so YS didn't lead neilah this year --- in my opinion a mistake. The person who led neilah used the geshem/tal meoldy for kaddish (gong) and the regular yamim noraim melody for avot (double gong). At least he sang mochel avonot a few time and he finished on time!

Time to go practice waving various garden specimens around.

-- the (very hoarse) NF

Monday, September 6, 2010

לשמוע אל הרינה ואל התפילה

this past Motza"sh, the NF, Yoni R, the "logical African" (the NF's annual hot date for selichot night) and the logical African's father in law, Murray the drug pusher, went to hear Shlomo Glick lead selichot accompanied by Srulik Hirshtik's choir.

The choir was phenomenal and Shlomo Glick did an absolutly fantastic job (and this is coming from a guy who does not particularly care for chazzanut).

Links to snipits recorded by the logical African can be found below:

לכו נרננה
לשמוע אל הרינה

כתיבה וחתימה טובה

the NF

Monday, August 30, 2010

Random stuff

The NF hasn't posted since early July ---- very little interesting material has presented itself.

So some random stuff:

1. the NF finished Sefer Breishit last week just about one year after starting. At the pace I'm currently writing (1 hour a day, 7 days a week --- I write Friday morning and Motzash), I should be done in another three years. Here's a picture from the start of פרשת ויחי:

 2. With the High Holiday Days almost upon us, the NF is getting ready to lead Shacharit Second day R"h and Shacharit at the neighborhood vatikin minyan on Yom Kippur. Right now, I'm petrified I'm going to catch a nasty cold a few days before R"h....

3. The gabbaim at the NF's shul decided that no one should have a chazaka on any particular tefilla.
But for some reason, the gabbaim decided to overlook this issue when they asked the yodeler to lead y"k mincha for the third year running.

Here is what the big gong had to say about that:

-----Original Message-----

From: The Big Gong
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 6:23 PM
To: the NF

Subject: Y"k

Is there any explanation for why the Yoddler managed to get the same slot (actually any slot) three years in a row? Is the Gonging Gabbai in cahoots with the dry cleaner that will be cleaning all the soiled pants (American translation: crapped underpants) after YK?

----  End message ----

To tell you the truth, other than kedusha and kaddish, the yodeler does a respectable job. The last two years he has managed to finish mincha within five minutes of the time allocated to him for mincha. And --- other than kedusha and kaddish --- his nusach is passable. So the gonging gabbai and I were trying to think of ways to tell the yodeler, nicely, not to do his off-key yodeling bit. The problem:  every suggestion ended up sounding like this: "Hey yodeler, you know that melody you use for kedusha? It makes people laugh so hard they cry and then they crap and wet themselves. It makes mother's milk turn sour. It causes mixed dancing. It causes our children to turn off the derech. It is probably responsible fo global warming, AIDs, land mines, many cancers and Air Supply. So would you mind not using this year (or ever)."

4. A sign the apaocolypse is coming: The gonging gabbai asked both Mendy and Shloime to daven musaf over the last few weeks and told them not to sing avinu avinu. And they didn't. Shloime did get a bit of a hurt look on his face when he was told not to do it.

5. This coming motzash I have my annual hot date with a neighborhood buddy  to go hear a chazan and choir for first selichot. This year, we are going to hear Shlomo Glick accompanied by Srulik Herstik's awesome choir.

6. The guy leading kol nidrei this year at the NF's shul asked me to record my nusach...so I downloaded recording software onto my PC. Now my kids like to sneak  itno the office, open the software and record themselves singing Shama lama ding dong as sung by Otis Day (shlit"a) and the Knights in the heilige movie Animal House. (you can guess who taught the little NFs (ages 8, 6, 4 and 2) how to sing that song).

7. If anyone has any R"h/Y"k nusach questions, email them in and I'll try to answer with accompanying recordings. Please don't ask me questions about Y"k musaf --- I've never learned it.

---The NF

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Off topic

So this morning the gang celebrated the ritual snipping of the Gonging Gabbai's youngest. Mazal Tov to Mr and Mrs Gonging Gabbai. The brit deserves special mention because both Mr and Mrs Gonging Gabbai gave awesome speeches where there was a brief dvar Torah, a nice succinct explanation why they named their son what they did and very limited (almsot none!) mushy gushy stuff.

While mushy gushy stuff in a brit/simchat bat speech really has nothing to do with shul or nusach, the fact that britot/smachot bat are often celebrated in a shul is good enough for me to include some discussion here on the blog.

Did you ever notice that brit/simchat bat speeches often make people very uncomfortable. There are a number of elements that can casue this discomfort:
1. The hesped for the person that the child has been named for. Examples:
  • We have named our child Yosef after my great great great grandfather Reb Yosef Stalinsky. Zaide Yosef was a man of the people but also a leader. It was said that his appetite for cholent could cause famine and his strong belief in the abeshter as the lone רופא in the world caused him to have issues with doctors. Zaide Yosef was so machmir when it came bedikat chametz that he would do everything possible to purge his  house of items he did not thing were acceptable.
  • We have named our son Yankel after Shprintzee's great uncle. Yankel learned all of shas twice everyday. He would fast everday but shabbes. He loved dipping in ice cold mikvaos. And his conviction for money laundering, tax fraud, racketeering and pimping was anti-semitic. Yankel was the gabbi of the sfardishe minyan in Federal Prison and we hope that out little Yankel will follow in his footsteps.
  • We have named our daughter Gittle Genendal after Zalmi's bubbe. Bubbe made chicken soup (the speaker starts crying) and gefilte fish (more weeping)....Her jellied calf's foot was loved by all those that were willing to taste it (starts wailing). 
Yes people like to dress up their yichus or alternativly start telling us very banal information.  Why we have to hear about it is beyond me.

2. The couple decide to let everyone know that they love one another. Examples:
  • Sara'leh, I just want to tell you I love you so much (all the Americans in the room now go Ohhhhhh while the NF starts barfing) and I still would even if your father didn't agree to support me in kollel for another five years.
  • Oh Bracha, following the birth of our 8th child last week, I can tell you any lingering doubts I had about us are gone. (the NF was actually at a bris where I heard this)
  • Oh Chavie, Thank you for bearing my children. I love you and I'm not just saying because otherwise you'll make me sleep on the sofa
Folks, keep it to yourselves. I like to simply assume that a couple who are on child number 7 love one another. I don't need to hear it. And more often than not, the statement of love comes out cold or insincerely making me think that maybe the new father really does have lingering doubts (or is in love with his chavruta)

Anyway, Mazal Tov again to the Gonging Gabbai Family. שתזכו לגדלו לתורה לחופה ולמעשים טובים

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baruch Dayan Emet

(Given the circumstances, I'm going to break my usual blogging protocol of using nicknames and initials)

Last night, a good friend and member of the neighborhood chevra, Marc Weinberg (שמעון אלימלך בן אלחנן דוד הכהן וסימה רבקה), passed away at the young age of 35 after a gallant three year fight with Leukemia and GvH.

Marc and I met back in 1993-4 while learning in Gush and despite Marc's general dislike for Americans, we became good friends. When my wife and I moved to England in 1999, Marc and I had a chance to reconnect --- by then he was dating his future wife, Natalie, an old friend of Mrs. NF's brother. Marc and Natalie in characteristic fashion were incredibly warm and welcoming. On Yom Kippur, the NF and his wife davened in the Bnai Akiva Bayit and each mitpallel was given a time to do shmira by the front door of the shul to be on the lookout for anything suspicious. The gabbai giving out the times gave me the 10 minutes at the end of Neila. Marc noticed this and insisted on taking my time slot --- telling me that giving a newcomer the worst shemira time slot possible is not appropriate hachnasat orchim.

Years later we all connected again in our new neighborhood in Modiin. Marc and Natalie insited on having us over for supper the day we moved into our new home. Something that Marc said that day really stands out in my mind. As Natalie brought drinks to the table, Marc quickly offered my two older kids some juice. He then turned to his older daughter, Yona (then about 3) and explained that part of hachnasat orchim is offereing your guests food and drink even before taking for yourself.  For me, Marc's simple statement to Yona was representative of a key part of Marc's persona --- a complete dedication to Jewish Education and making every opportunity an educational one.

Marc was the ultimate student (and teacher) of Judaism. the phrase "ושננתם לבניך ודברת בם" was central to him. Looking at his impressive library, Marc loved delving into classic texts, philosophy and history. Any new thought provoking book, article or film needed to be discussed and analyzed. When mentioning  that I had just fininshed a book or seen a film, his response was always, "Nu", an indication that he wanted to borrow what ever I had just finished so that we could discuss its contents.

When it came time to select a school track for his older daughter, we spoke for hours debating the pros and cons of each option. Marc wanted the educational framework that would ensure that his daughter would be a knowledgable, sensitive and engaged Jew when she reached adulthood. Marc ultimatly selected the option that would require the most effort from him and Natalie telling me that other options might provide a stronger framework in the early years but only significant investment at home would instill in his daughter the love of Judaism that he was seeking for her.

Marc was not just a student of Judaism. He was also an engaged member of the greater Jewish community that took the phrase "וכל מי שעוסקים בצרכי ציבור באמונה" very seriously. He was mazkir artzi of Bnai Akiva in the UK. Later, Marc was a founder of the Alei Ziyyon minyan in London and was a co-founder (with the NF) of the first Shabbat and Yamim Noraim minyan in our new neighborhood. Even after falling ill almost three years ago, Marc made significant efforts to fundraise for our shul.

Marc was blessed with a pleasant voice and an excellent ear. As a child he sang in the London School of Jewish Song and in honour of BA's 60th anniversary in the UK, he helped put out (and sang on) a CD. This past Rosh Hashana he led Maariv on the second night, davening beautifully inspiring those present.

Marc was much more than just student of Judaism and an engaged member of the commmunity. I'm sure that both at the leviya today (at 5 PM in the Modiin cemetary) and over the course of the shiva, people will provide their perspectives of this most unique and special person.

יהי זכרו ברוך

To his wife Natalie, daughters, Yona and Maayan, parents,  Henry and Sema and sister, Deborah  ---
המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Self Gratification

Yesterday, as the haftara was being completed, the NF saw Shloime Baruch heading up to the shulchan to serve as chazzan for Musaf.

It was late --- given that it was Shabbat Rosh Hodesh --- and very stuffy in the kindergarten where the NF's shul davens. Right before תפילה לשלום המדינה a few people standing around the shulchan all whispered  יעלה and סע  to Shloime. (Translation: It's late...no nonsense please). So what did Shloime do? He starts a very schleppy Avinu Avinu and calls up the old choir from Yom Haatzmaut --- they even hummed Hatikva at the end while Shloime read the end of the tefilla prose style. Barf. Neither he nor the choir members noticed that most of the shul members were rolling their eyes or giggling.
Shloime has commited the shul crime of cantorial masturbation --- that is self gratification through the unwanted introduction of cantorial pieces into the davening. No one wanted to hear Avinu Avinu and certainly not with the choir. And that hatikva bit was completely uncalled for. The NF couldn't take it anymore....so when little NF #4 pooed himself (he's still in diapers), the NF volunteered to leave shul early to change him (Mrs. NF forgot to bring diapers). Mrs. NF stayed for musaf and reported that Shloime:
1. Schlepped through musaf (she thought it would never end)
2. Then turned around to the kahal at the end of davenign and asked for a cigarette.

When the NF got to mincha, he noticed that Shloime seemed to be having trouble seeing and his palms were getting a bit hairy....

The only positive takeaway from this whole experience is that Mrs NF has told the NF he can daven at the Neighborhood Hashkama minyan (the nicest minyan in town in my book --- not too rushed, ok singing etc) for the next few weeks.

Shavua tov,

the NF

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shavuot round-up and Parshat Naso

There were three highlights to the NF's Shavuot:

1. My wife's cooking and specifically --- an incredibly good onion cheese quiche that found the perfect balance between savory and sweet as well as between creamy and flaky; and a grade A cheesecake that had a velvety texture, a custardy aftertaste and just the right hint of vanilla flavour. Both were very rewarding...but the NF digresses. (Can you tell that the NF really wanted to be a food critic?)

2. J's excellent arvit on Shavuot night and YS's excellent shacharit on shavuot monring. Friends, these guys know nusach. The Society of Nusach Freakhood is pleased to annouce that both J and YS are the winners of this month's highest Nusach honour: The Golden Shtender. Way to go gentlemen (and I use the term loosely).

3. Timmy went and asked the gonging gabbai of he could daven musaf on chag --- Unfortunetly the gonging gabbai didn't say no and Timmy proceeded to mumble through חזרת הש"ץ. Gong. and he faked the nusach badly. Gong.
While Timmy gave us his poor rendition, J, YS and the NF sat inventing new charade pantomimes for suicide. It was the third highlight of my chag. Pantomimes included:
  • shooting oneself in the temple
  • inserting a pistol in one's mouth and shooting.
  • Hanging oneself.
  • Opening a jar of pills, pouring out the entire contents into the other hand and swallowing
  • Slitting one's writs
  • Jumping out of a building
  • electrocuting oneself
  • inserting a stick of dynamite into one's mouth and setting off the charge
  • inserting a sword into one's stomach, samurai style
  • Turning on the gas oven and then inserting one's head.
Yes. Musaf was that bad.

Parshat Naso.

"H" Davened friday night..."H" Has a very very nice voice and is the chazzan in the NF's shul now and again (especially during the chagim). Yet he was super gonged firday night....he was schleppy and sang in a way so that no one could sing along and ----- he couldn't decide on a nusach --- he said כגוונא, then skipped ויצמח פורקניה before kaddish. After מגן אבות he said מזמור לדוד but then omitted ויצמח פורקניה in קדיש before ברכו. Gong Gong Gong.

Mendy davened musaf --- as he got up there, the NF was sure we were in for an avinu avinu followed by some idiotic melody for קדיש before musaf. But alas, Mendy davened really nicely with no shenanigans. Apparently, the Gonging Gabbai told him he had 10 minutes....Way to go Gonging Gabbai.

Dr. D spent shabbat at a hotel and called me this morning to let me know that he experienced (in his words) --- "Beating the crap out of the gong" after hearing a really terrible chazzan friday night. Interesting.

It has come to the NF's attention that Yoni R. posted a link to Nusach Freak in the comments section of  the Life in Israel blog in response to a post mentioning the shul on the beach.

apparently, the rav of the aforementioned shul read my blog entry --- here are his comments:
that {} post is highly offensive, wildly inaccurate and shows such a small-minded attitude about Judaism.

Le me respond by saying that the NF blog is satire --- the NF will often make use of the absurd (example: making kiddush on humus flavoured schnapps) as part of that satire --- the NF is not trying to be 100% accurate. If one doesn't appreciate satire in general or my joking about shul/nusach, there isn't much more I can say than Gong and we all give you the finger (so you can lein of course). However, it is never my intent to insult. So to anyone who may have been offended by my postings I say:
1. Please accept my apologies and
2. Please don't read my blog anymore.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Being a Zionist...

...does not mean singing everything in the siddur to the melody of Hatikva.
Or so the NF thought until this past Shabbat.

Kabbalat Shabbat was led by Timmy --- who sang Lecha Dodi to Hatikva. Kitsch! The NF was not terribly bothered because I was deeply engrossed in  a really interesting book recently purchased at the Mossad Harav Kook book sale. The NF's mother-in-law, spending shabbat with Mr. and Mrs. NF was not nearly as generous and grumbled all the way home that using Hatikva for Lecha Dodi was cheesy, kitschy and boring. (For those of you who know my very Israeli Mo in Law, you will recall that she worked for years in the Israeli ministry of tourism in various consular offices --- we suspect she was actually Mossad---...I didn't think anything in the world could be too cheesy or kitschy in her book.)

Shabbat morning, Shloime Baruch hastely put together a choir to sing Avinu Avinu with full choral accompaniment. Given that they had all of about 15 minutes to practice, it actually sounded allright (if a bit flat). You may recall that the NF is not opposed to  singing Avinu Avinu the Shabbat before Yom Haatzmaut (and the first shabbat of a war*).  However, for the second non-choral half of tefilla lshalom hamedina, Shloime read prose style while the choir hummed hatikva. Cheeeeeeesy. The NF almost barfed on his shoes.

Then at the end of musaf, someone thought it would be a good idea to sing Anim Zemirot to Hatikva. The NF really wanted to scream "Enough!" Instead of doing this cheesy, faux-zionist crap, how about finding ways to improve the country. Here are a few ways:
1. Introduce the concept of customer service,
2. Refrain from picking your nose in public
3. Stop peeing on the side of the road towards on-coming traffic.
4. Block the import of henna-hair colouring dyes/products so that the 99.9% of women over 59 in Israel who colour their hair will stop looking like Bozo the clown.
5. Teach people how to drive

Disgusted, the NF went home from shul and decided to show his family what true zionism really is by making kiddush on Hummus flavoured schnnaps.

-The NF

BTW, after hearing yet another part of davening sung to the melody of Hatikva, the Rishon Ltzion of Uruguay suggested that we sing Hatikva to the melody of Hava Nagila (try it --- it's much harder than you think).

* if a second war breaks out in the same calendar year, there is no need to sing Avinu Avinu again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

reaching new heights

So Friday night, the gabbaim had the old guy who inspired the KTC post lead maariv (one of many Alvins ---as in Alvin and the Chipmunks --- led a satisfactory Kabbalat Shabbat).

This old guy has no business davening anywhere including the Jewish home for the deaf  (as will be explained later) but for some reason, the gabbaim alwasys ask him when he makes an appearance in our little shul. So the old guy kept trying to do trills to embellish his already poor nusach but everytime he did, he flew off-key. During magen avot, two items of interest occured:
1. The old guy closed his eyes and sang --- (I'm being very generous when I call it that) --- Not reading from a siddur he finished off with the words "עם מדושני עונג". We then had an awkward 3-5 second period before everyone started yelling "זכר למעשה בראשית" at the old guy.
2. The NF noticed that somethign was happening to his digestive tract everytime the old guy opened his mouth. Indeed, the old guy's voice was so shrill, everytime he "sang", the NF could feel his intestinal villus vibrate uncomfortably. For the first time in the NF's life, a chazzan was so bad he interupted normal digestive function. Here we had a chazzan that would even be gonged by a deaf person.

Me thinks, that we have found a natural substitute for Ex-Lax. Yoni R., could you prepare the patent documentation?

the NF

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hope everyone is relieved that Pesach has passed...

For a number of highly technical reasons, the NF will not be posting on his Pesach experience.

Yoni R. did send me a very cute forward which makes reference to our favorite element of Pesach leining...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shabbat Zachor

Readers may recall that the NF is not all that fond of Purim or as the big Gong likes to say, "Anything that involves smiling". Now that is not completely fair --- It's not smiling and being happy that bothers the NF --- the NF doesn't like balagan and lack of decorum. I smile plenty on Tisha B'av.

Friday night, the gabbaim got a guy up there to daven knowing he would do silly schtick...
So the said chazan (not a usual mitpalel in the NF's shul) did Kabbalat Shabbat Carlebach style and I must say his grade for Kabbalat Shabbat (up to Lecha Dodi) was A+ for the simple reason that he flew --- none of that schleppy, eyes closed happy clappy spiritual stuff --- it seemed like the guy took "speed" before he started.
then things started breaking down:
1. Lecha Dodi --- to the melody of mishenichnas adar. It's not original. It doesn't fit that well and the chazzan couldn't figure out how often to do the high part.
2. After K'gavna (it was nusach sfarad), the chazzan went into the neigh neigh neighs of R"h and Y"k. The NF doesn't understand this one at all. what exactly is the connection between the yamim noraim and Shabbat Zachor. Was the chazzan trying to be mizalzel the yamim noraim or showing the importance of Shabbat Zachor. The answer: neither.  He was trying to be cutsie/funny and failed miserably. If anyone can explain the "humour" of using the yamim noraim melody  it would be much appreciated.
3. After Magen Avot,  YS whispered to the NF --- "I bet the he's going to try a victory kaddish"...much to our surprise, the chazzan went  into a normal kaddish --- that is until titkabel tzeloton where he started a yamim noraim melody --- see the NF's comment #2 above.
4. When he hit עושה שלום במרומיו he went into that classic Israeli 1970's melody that makes you think of the Israeli male of yore --- tight pants, open shirt (with a huge collar) showing an "Austin Powers" worthy set of chest hair, a large magen david or Chai medalion, a Hebrefro etc.  Were it the case that the chazzan was trying to be funny, it would have been one thing ---- but I think this was his nusach. As the big Gong said (and I mean this as no offense to the non-heterosexuals in our readership): "That was really really gay."

Happily, the next day the Rishon Ltzion of Uruaguy davened Shacharit and J davened musaf with good old fashioned nusach and we didn't have to sing Avinu Avinu or any Broadway showtoons.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm disgusted

This post has nothing to do with nusach, shul, singing avinu avinu, using silly Boradway melodies for kedusha or gonging. I'm writing this post not as the NF but as a simple Jew who has had enough of hearing how our religious "leaders" have once again been exposed as at best, morally deficient and at worst, frauds and charlatans.

Many of you may read blogs such as failed messiah, unorthodox jew and daas torah which document on a seemingly daily basis the expose of another misuse of power on the part of someone with the title "rabbi". No particular migzar (group) seems to be immune --- The Spinka Rebbe is in Jail for money laundering, there is last summer's raid on the Syrian community,  "Mekubalim" are exposed as frauds now and again after promising to exorcise dibbuks or make sure your wish comes true --- of course if the check you have written is large enough....of course we have the Leib Tropper affair. There is the Washington Post story raising serious questions about the sofer claiming to sell "Holocaust" Torahs.  Earlier this week you may have read about the "prominent NY chazzan" stealing tzedakka money from his mother in law (the Holocaust survivor). (I'm intentionally leaving out the links here ---- you can google any one of these items and get a plethora of hits.)  (Please note that many of the stories above are alleged and some reflect situations where inidividuals plead guilty.)

However one recent news item has trully shaken my faith and trust in our religious leadership:
The Mordechai Elon affair. For years the Dati L'eumi community has looked to Rav Elon as one of our religious and educational leaders. I am generally not one to judge another person's behavior. When the story first broke, I immeadetly assumed that there had been some misunderstanding --- years ago Rav Aviner --- another leader was accused of sexual impropriety but his name was eventually cleared. But when Rav Aharon Lichtenstein goes on the reconrd stating exactly what had happened (and that he has recieved threatening messages), it's hard to be dan lkaf zechut. I have no idea is Rav Elon did anything wrong. But it is enough that there are claims against him and that Rav Lichtenstein (among others) is condemning him to shake my faith and trust in our leadership.
---  And if we cannot trust the Mordechai Elons of our community, what rabbanim can we trust?

Currently, my belief in the "Aseh l'cha Rav" system is 99% dead. All I see are rabbanim who mis-use psak or their leadership positions to gain power and control or wealth. With that in mind, I don't know who can be trusted anymore. How can I tell which rav is a liar?, which one is a theif?, which one is having an affair? and which one knows less halacha than me but bought his semicha online? If it weren't a practical impossibility, I would stop using hechsherim --- How is it that a rav that will lie and steal and shtup little boys is suddenly reliable to tell me that the chicken I'm buying at the supermarket is ok?

Praying for better times with more trustworthy leadership,

A simple Jew

Monday, February 8, 2010

Jerusalem- II

Many readers will recall that last Spring, the NF and family spent shabbat in J-m at the bed and breakfast belonging to his in-laws. With the NF's in-laws visiting in Israel for a few weeks, the NF  and family were summoned to again spend Shabbat in downtown Jerusalem. Happy Happy Joy Joy. The one saving grace of being in Merkaz Ha-ir for Shabbat  is being able to go to the great synagogue and hearing some fine choir action....or so I thought. People watching can also be quite fun --- especially when Jesus shows up for Kabbalat Shabbat.

So the NF, the greater NF family (inlcuding Mrs. NF and the 4 little NFs) along with Dr and Mrs In-Laws made our way in the rain to the great synagogue for Kabbalat Shabbat. Since the NF was there last, Chaim Adler has replaced Naftali Hershtik as the Chazzan Rashi. ---- A summary of events:
1. Boring. was the same old Kabbalat Shabbat the NF would hear in his own shul only instead of Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks leading, we had a world class Chazzan.
2. there was hardly any interaction between Chazzan and Choir
3. Instead of an  interesting Lecha Dodi, the chazzan picked one of the melodies taught to kids in pre-school. The choir didn't sing along.
4. The Chazzan then went into a serious, heavy and elongated cantorial piece for Bameh Madlikin (of all things)---- he got very emotional when repeating ורבי יוסי פוטר בכולן חוץ מן הפתילה מפני שהוא עושה פחם over and over again. I know we are facing issues with fossil fuels but there is no reason to cry over the פתילה.
4.  In the middle of a Hashkivenu, little NF (#2) whispered to me that he wanted to make a deposit in the country's manure reserves and that pretty much ended davening for me.

All in, the choir was disappaointing and didn't mesh well with the chazzan.
In other news, Ari J sent this interesting link on a tone deaf Sephardi Chazzan at S&P in NY.

Shavua Tov,

The NF

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shabbat in Herziliya

The NF's in-laws are currently in the Holyland and the decision was made that we would all (the in-laws, Mr and Mrs NF and the 4 little NFs) go to a  hotel in Herziliya for Shabbat. Let me just say that a good time was had by all (the company was good, the food was excellent and getting away now and again is always kind of fun) even if little NF #2 woke everyone up on Shabbat morning at 4:15 AM and even if davening in hotels is the absolute pits....

Let us dwell on this last point for just a moment ---

Davening in hotels sucks. Why? the possibilities:
1. There is a chazzan way past his prime who thinks people have come to the hotel just to hear him belt a few out.
2. There is no chazzan or baal koreh or anyone else who can read Hebrew so when the mashgiach asks in (the middle of dinner of course) "who wants to lein tomorrow?", the old wifee says, "the NF loves to lein" --- and it turns out to be Parshat Ki Tavoh....(this happened once)
3. The minyan is made up of you and 9 guys who look like they are taxi drivers: Jeans (with wallet bulging out), overly tight fake armani t-shirt, a lot of cologne, lots of gold necklaces, sunglasses on top of their heads, and a little "pyramid" kippah floating somewhere above their shaved or highly jelled hair. (we'll have to have a post about these guys one of these days). These guys are not shomer shabbat but when it comes to Friday night davening, there is nothing holier. Of course, they are unwilling to be the chazzan so you must do it in your traditional Ashkenazi way....
Failure to read all of Shir Hashirim or sing the one melody they know for Lecha Dodi gets you dirty looks, lots of jeering and if you need to call a taxi Motza"sh you just know you are in trouble...
4.  Everyone there but you is tone deaf. Trying to sing anything results in a cacophany of sound that makes Mother's milk turn sour and causes diahrrea.

So The NF and his father in law go to shul Friday everning and find all three of the four conditions are met.
An 88 -year old chazzan honored us with his rendition of Kabbalt Shabbat. (there was a baal koreh!), the minyan was largely made up of Taxi drivers and no could sing to save their lives.

On the positive side, davening in a hotel gives those that want to practice their chazzunus abilities an opprtunity to completly stink without risking a gonging....you want to sing Kedusha to SuperFragilisticallyExpeadlodocious? --- here is your opportunity. Think that amazing grace fits nicely for Kel Ha-adon?....go head -- have fun.

So the NF ended up doing shacharit and yes, I tested out a few melodies --- specifically --- Kol Mikadesh Shvii for Kedusha --- it worked well although you must start very very low and you must repeat words....
the old chazzan running the show (who I later heard tell someone that he had foregotten to put in his hearing aids before shabbat) came over to the NF right before Chazarat Hashat"z when the NF went to wash his hands (I'm of priestly stock) and a) told me that he liked my nusach/davening and b) asked if I was from Czechslovakia?

Uh. thanks and no.

Getting back home last night, Yoni R. told me I had missed some fine gonging...
The NF contacted the gonging Gabbai and the big Gong to find out that Shloime Baruch sang avinu avinu (but of course he did -- Is the pope catholic? Does the litvak follow the chumrah?  Does cholent cause golbal warming?) and he sang Keter to the melody "Memories" from Cats. That is so wrong.

Shavua Tov.

The NF

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A guest blog

The NF's  introduction to this week's guest blog written by The Big Gong:
Roughly three weeks ago, the gongoing gabbai showed tremendous levels of hishtadlus and put the yodeller up to daven musaf knowing full well that:
1. the yodeller would sing avinu avinu (and badly)
2. the yodeller would probably yodle kedusha like he did on y"k
3. The NF would be forced to bring out the gong and then write about it on the blog.

Actual results:
1. the yodeller did sing avinu avinu leading a number of people in the shul to vomit on their shoes.
2. Kedusha was indeed yodelled as it was on Y"k. At the time the Yodeller did this,  the shul was hosting a number of prospective gerim/chayilim from the Netiv program many enjoying thier first ever experience in a shul. Let's just say that the Yodeller succeeded in discouraging gerut in a way that would make Shulchan Aruch proud.
3. Unlike Y"k the NF --- standing next to the Big Gong ---- did not laugh/cry. I was shocked and stunned that someone could so horribly mangle the davening. The NF had absolutely no idea what I could say about this experience. So the NF asked the big Gong if he would like to guest blog.
4. It took much prodding to get the the Big Gong to finish his writing....but folks here it is....
I was honoured when the Freak asked if I'd write a guest piece for the now famous blog. This request came some weeks ago, and I now find myself sleepless and on an aeroplane, with nothing better to do, so here goes.

As one of our good books says, 'potchim bichvod ha'achsania'. I suppose that's the Freak.

Ashreinu that he's torn down barriers I never knew could be torn down. Never before did I realise that it could be entirely appropriate to wet oneself during a mussaf kedusha, and yet that's almost happened on several occasions.

At least in the shul I grew up in, and I don't suppose it's especially unusual amongst modern orthodox institutions in chu'l, things like the Tefila l'shalom ha'medina are said with more kavana by the tzibbur than Kol Nidrei or Unetana Tokef. And yet, just this last week, I found myself in pieces as a now timeless rendition of 'Avinu Avinu' was belted out by an otherwise passable baal tefilla. It was special not only because the Freak called it the night before, but because it was executed so badly the fellow lost his place half way through. Even our yodelling friend never got it that wrong.
This post would be incomplete without expressing my profound and personal thanks to the Freak for an act of sublime chesed recently performed for my benefit.
I had a bad cold (man flu - nearly fatal don't you know). I was asked to daven shacharit. I said yes. I don't claim or pretend to have a good voice. I can probably hold some tunes, and I'd like to think I know my limitations - ie I try to get it done quickly and passably. It got to Kel Adon. Normally I'd churn out some Carlebach something - perhaps to 'shomrim hafkid' or similar (don't they all sound the same?), but this time I went for my favourite - and if you've never heard Ehud Banai sing it, you must. Unfortunately with mutilated sinuses (sinii?), I started at a key so low, the only things capable of joining in were manatees and certain species of wild dogs. One stanza in, I'm enjoying myself, and with ears equally blocked, I was blissfully unaware of the pain being felt around the room as the low wave frequencies started interfering with the workings of people's bowels.
From the corner of my eye, I saw some sort of interchange between the Freak and the Gonging Gabbai, and before I knew it, the Freak was leading the rest of the piyut in a key several scales higher. The congregation and I were reunited.
Now you probably couldn't get away with doing that in many shuls, but it's certainly a measure of something good that it can happen in our shul.

Now for something a little more serious to think about: The Big Gong and his long suffering wife had the pleasure of lunch chez Mr + Mrs Freak. Lunch was excellent, and dessert was even better. After lunch, the Freak and I were killing time until the children got particularly out of hand and we could sneak off to mincha. A measure of the Freak's modernity is that he was washing up whilst Mrs Freak was lording it in the garden with Mrs Big Gong.

Of the many things we discussed, we talked about nusach. Now I may not be able warble away like Hershtik, Helfgott or Haschel (trying saying those three names when you've drunk too much Slivovitz), but I do have a good understanding of the structure of prayer, what we say when, and what tunes fit with the moment and are generally acceptable - at least according to the venerable 'Blue Book'.

This is simply because I grew up in a proper shul with a proper chazan, and with a congregation that actually got upset if the Pesach yigdal was sung instead of the Shavuot yigdal, or if the shaliach tzibbur fluffed a 'someich noflim' or an 'Avraham yagel' during shabbat mincha.

And you know what, as ridiculous as it may sound, my love for 'organised prayer', my spiritual connection to certain times of the year and certain tefillot, is so much stronger because of this experience during my formative years.

And then I think about our kids. They'll grow up davening in a shuk, where you can only buy fruit in sealed paper bags, and you won't know what you've bought until you open the bag. Sometimes the oranges will be nice, other times the apples won't be. Sometimes they'll get something out of davening, and other times they'll be wetting themselves during kedusha, when let's be honest, they really shouldn't.

So my view, for whatever it may be worth, is that the shul should have a defined nusach (and not just the nusach of the person at the amud), and possibly even some preferred tunes. I appreciate that it's difficult when the 'mob' tend to daven one nusach, and the vast majority of the quality baalei tefilla daven another, but you get my point.

One of the many things communities are built on are the songs we sing together, and I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness that my kids are unlikely to feel those same moments of connection when they hear a particular tune that I always will.

What do you think?