The NF doesn't like Simchat Torah very much as I've written in past years. My solution has always been to attend a hashkama minyan at 6:00 AM and be done by 8:30. But alas, the NF is the gabbai (along with J and YS) of the main minyan in the NF's local yokel shul. Going to hashkama was therefore not an option.
It wasn't as bad as a I was expecting. Having said that, it was still painful.
For our international readers, don't forget that in Israel Simchat Torah is observed on Shmini Atzeret. That means that in addition to al lthe simchat torah crap (hakafot, aliyot, chatanim, kiddush) there is also yizkor and geshem. The NF and J approached both Mendy and Big M Halevi about leading Geshem. Both refused. What the hell we thought, let's ask Ben Bollocks.
So Ben Bollocks gets up there to lead Geshem....right after putting back the sifrei torah, he asks me if he is supposed to say "hineni". And then I knew we were in for it.
1. He started the kaddish that is used before Musaf on the yamim noraim. Gong. Only in the second half of kaddish did he correct his mistake and switch to Geshem.
2. For Avot, he used the melody for Neilah. Gong. This was a first....I have heard chazzanim use Geshem for Neilah but never Neilah for Geshem.
3. The piyut for Geshem itself was actaully done in a satisfactory manner.
Typically, The NF gets annoyed when people do shtuyot on Simchat Torah....but the NF, after working like a dog the last month (along with J and YS) hit the point of not caring sometime during the first day of Sukkot....so The NF enjoyed watching the following:
1. The Gonging Gabbai pour a cup of water on Ben Bollocks when he said Mashiv Haruach Umorid Hageshem. Not original but funny enough.
2. After Kedusha, YS belted out yimloch to the melody used on Rh and YK...Ben Bollocks didn't stand a chance and couldn't make the switch to Shlosh Regalim nusach.
3. In the middle of chazarat Hashatz we simply took away the shtender (as we would for aleinu on RH and YK) leaving Ben Bollocks grasping for his machzor....
4. Tekiah was randomly called out....
Ben Bollocks was a good sport through all of this....
The NF, YS, The Big Gong and the Gonging Gabbai wewre invited to a bar mitzvah held in KY/S&M. It was probably the worst davening experience I have had ince the last time I went to a bar mitzvah at KY/S&M. This was no fault of the bar mizvah boy who read the parsha adequatly and for the most part accurately. No. What made the davening so special were the imported baalei tefilla the family of the bar mitzvah brought to lead services.
The guy who led shacharit did so in a manner that was completely inoffensive. It was also completing boring, uninspiring and as dry as a camel turd in the middle of the Sahara. The chazzan sang absolutley nothing. It was just as well I guess because the guy who davened musaf did sing and the NF wished he hadn't. It was embarresingly painful to hear a guy sing melodies that didn't fit the words (Birchat hachodesh), in bad keys (kedusha) and try to sing melodies he didn't know ("Tanya" at the end of kedusha).
1. Just because it's your simcha doesn't mean that Uncle Harold - the one with the nasty toupe who likes to play "pull my finger"with your children --- has to daven musaf.
2. If you are going to daven, know your crowd --- if you are in a main minyan with 400 people you are expected to sing a little.
3. Know your limitations --- if you aren't 100% sure how a melody fits don't use it. All the more so if you don't know the melody.
4. Americans for the most part do not know how to sing. KY/S&M is by and large a shul attended by Americans....I have never been in a main minyan with 400+ people where the singing sounded so bad. No one seemed to know how to harmonize.