Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yom Kippur= Day of Affliction

Not only was it freezing in shul, the services took forever. 8:30am-4pm, then 4:45-7:45 for mincha and ne'ilah. You may ask, what took so long? Here are the reasons, as far as I can tell:

1) Repetition of every piyut (religious poem). First the chazzan had to sing a line, and then the congregation had to mumble it, or vice versa. The other lovely effect of this is that the chazzan could not keep a tune going if he was interrupted every line, so it all sounded sort of strange.

2) The rabbi's HOUR-LONG sermon. No one needs to speak for an hour. NO ONE. Also, he started with a story that is printed in the artscroll siddur. When I am bored during an interminable service (as this one was) I like to read the explanatory notes provided by my siddur. I cannot imagine that I am the only one. Therefore, repeating a tale that is printed in the book, and doing it badly was totally unneccessary. And of course, since it is Yom Kippur, he put emphasis on the fact that good deeds=giving money to charity (which the artscroll does not) so that you will give money to the shul.

3) The awkward appeal. I've only seen this in New York. Some guy with a fancy title (Doctor, or Professor) stands at the podium and reads from a list of donors, their names and the amounts that they've given. Then, prominent members of the shul walk around, and people give their names, or the names of someone who is sick/has died, which is announced with an amount that they pledge to give. Super-awkward. This goes on until people start to get restless.

4) Ha'yom. Ok, so this only took a few minutes, but it is a pet peeve of mine. Towards the end of the service is a poem where the word "Ha'yom" (today) prefaces a plea, organized in alphabetical order. It is actually really short, but for whatever reason, the tune that is always used repeats "Ha'yom" at least 8 times. FOR EACH ONE. This is frustrating because services are almost over, but no, we have to wait another three minutes.

I don't know whose kavanah* this helps, but it is not mine. I found my mind wandering, and not to the topics of the day. The prayers are a combination of confession, and pleas for G-d to accept our repentance and take us back. This idea of begging for scraps of attention and forgiveness, usually isn't too bad, but is too close to a recent relationship for me to be comfortable.

All in all? If Yom Kippur was the deciding factor, I'm pretty sure that I was not sealed in the book of life.

*Kavanah means intention


RH Host said...

Don't complain about long. 7:45am-7:45pm, 10 minute break, no speach.

I've seen appeals like that before. Its disgusting and convinces me not to give money instead of the peer pressure to give money that they're hoping for.

The "Hayom" I heard only said "Hayom" once. But whats worse than repeating "Hayom" is dancing around the room after the shofar blast, when all people want to do is daven maariv so they can go home to eat.

harley said...

I always liked the Hayom tune. Maybe because my two cantors from home always sang it as a duet-race, seeing who could get through the "hayoms" fastest. Hayom hayom hayom hym hym hmm Haaaaaaaaym hm hayom!

Benjamin J. Cooper said...

I am so with you on the hayom. I swear I've heard a quicker tune.