Monday, October 31, 2016
Selichot: The NF attended the Great Synagogue with the two older little NFs. The choir was outstanding and the chazan (Tzvi Weiss) was good+.
My only criticisms: 1. A low baritone should not be singing the solo of מוחל עוונות and
2. The chazan sang three of the batim from לשמוע אל הרינה to a pretty well known melody used for birkat cohanim in the US. Too mundane for me when there are so many better options.
Rosh Hashana Day 1:
"Velvet", an Israeli of French (Strasbourg) descent, davened mussaf and won a golden shtender --- it was smooth, not shleppy and he sang all the right melodies. People joined in and you could say that the entire experience was both uplifting and fun.
Rosh Hashana Day 2:
Swiss Army Thespian led mussaf. Grade: Gong x 26.
Many of us (Velvet, Dr. D, the NF) have the philosophy that the teffilot in a maoin minyan but especially those on the yamim noraim offer an opportunity to reconnect, to participate and to experience something רוחני. (That is why we don't eat nut (or beans, cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage) on Rosh Hashana as those foods offer an opportunity for something רוחני but in the bad physical sense.)
Although I never asked, I would guess that Swiss doesn't subscribe to this philosophy. Swiss stuck to his own nostalgia (of home and/or yeshiva) and severely alienated and pissed off the kahal. Of course, there is room to slip lit bits and pieces of family or hometown nusach into the davening but singing בראש השנה יכתבון to a (boring) melody that only you know from home and then אין קצבה to a melody that maybe 5 know (instead of the Modzitz melody that everyone is expecting) is unforgivable. Singing Calebach's כבקרת רועה עדרו in a different part of ונתנה תןקף confused the hell out of people. The grand finale of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah for הללוליה was just irritating and people were not singing along. As our internationally famous Rav said afterward, "Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is very nice, but it (and other Hollywood melodies) has no place in my shul". Gong
Kol Nidrei was fine.
The NF led Shacharit with a bit of a raspy voice. the piyut אמרו לאלהים is way too long, nothing fits and forces the chzzan to sing for 39 pages by himself. Other than that piyut, I got people singing.
Musaf: The old Yekkish Don led for the 40th year in a row using Nusach Frankfurth, 1938. It was all right but not terribly uplifting.
Mincha: The guy finished on time but for his victory kaddish he used a Dutch melody that only he knew.
Neila: the youngest NF was a rockstar, singing a mochel avonot solo and earning his payment of a crapload of Toblerone.
Sukkot: All was fine or at worst, parve.
The night was fine and then we got to Shacharit: Martini led and all was fine until he got to hallel. Although hallel is a part of davening that people eagerly join in singing, Martini decided to sing a bunch of Australian melodies from the 1950s that only he knew. See Rosh Hashana Day 2. Gong.
Kabbalat Shabbat was led my mini-martini (no relation to Martini), a trained chazzan. It was slow and boring but apparently, mini-martini wanted to show us what we missed when he was not asked to daven over r"h and y"k. When he got to השכיבנו, he sang the entire thing slowly to, ready,....מכניסי רחמים. People were clearly getting annoyed ---but was he done. Oh no! He finished off the bracha to the melody of והיא שעמדה (connection unknown). The NF wished everyone a חג שמח וכשר, gonged and then went home.