Monday, September 10, 2012

Yoo Hoo! What's Going on Over There??

Here is a report from the women's side in shul. 

I am not complaining, chas v'shalom.  I personally really love going to shul.  All I want you men to know is that we women often have NO IDEA what is going on over on your side. 

For example, here are some common problems and my suggestions for solutions:

New father goes up for his aliyah, and we hear (we think) that the mi shebayrach has morphed into a baby naming.  We get all excited, straining to hear the name.  The the gabbai says it - too fast, too low.  We miss it, every time.  Then the whispering starts.  Every single woman turns to the woman next to her and says, "Did you hear it?"  "I think I did, but it sounded like 'Crocus Pizza' - that can't be right, can it?"  Well not unless the mother was a Hollywood star.

  • SOLUTION:  Please ask the new parents to have a poster ready with the name of the baby on it that the father can hold up immediately after the naming.  Oh, and a brief explanation of who she is named for wouldn't hurt, if it isn't too much trouble. Oh, and please the full names, cities of residence, professions, and relations to local people of the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.  Again, if it isn't too much trouble.

Yes, we are also interested in who gets aliyos.  But can we tell who they are?  Almost never.  First of all, the man usually starts putting his tallis over his head before he gets up there.  Second of all, the voice is muffled by the tallis, so we can't tell that way either. 
  • SOLUTION:  Would it be possible for the men to have a sign on the back of their talleisim with their names please?  Oh, and some identification, like "Shmuel Schwartz, the new son in law of the Goldberg family, he is learning in Telz and his parents are - yes, you are right - Malkie and Hillel Schwartz of Cleveland!  Yes!  originally from Flatbush!"

So, we women are, thank you very much, mostly comfortable with the usual flow of things in davening.  We know when to get up, when to sit down, when to be half and half.  But then there are the days when things are different, for whatever reason.  Like the first Shabbos after the third Thursday in August (can you tell I went to public school?  They did NOT teach this stuff in Pikesville Senior High, the nerve of them) - when they say an extra perek of this or that.  And we just don't always know what's going on.  Sometimes our neighbor does, but sometimes not.  Then we all stand (or sit) there trying not to look totally and completely lost.  The men are rushing at 200 mph through something and we don't know what it is.  We know we should be doing SOMETHING so we look at our siddurim as if they will magically tell us what to do.
  • SOLUTION:  I have none.  Other than using an Artscroll siddur, which, bless them, practically tells you when to breathe, or going back to the old ways of having everyone use the same siddur and having some young boy announce the page, what do we do about this?
Sometimes in shul everything stops and we know that something is going on but we don't know what it is.  It could be a problem with the sefer Torah, chas v'shalom someone isn't feeling well, a child just spilled an entire bag of treats on the bimah, etc.
  • SOLUTION:  Breaking News alerters - a young child can be sent into the women's section with an explanation of what is going on.   Who knows, this boychik could become the next Walter Cronkite and his career would have started in shul!

I always tell my husband that he should daven behind a mechitza sometime to see what it's like to daven behind a partition. It takes a lot more energy and focus on our part, and I think we deserve a lot of credit for that.

Of course we are women, so we have more focus and energy. [OOH, did I say that out loud?]



  1. One of the things I love about going to my Chabad in FL - everyone uses the same siddur and chumash, and the Rabbi announces what page we are on at regular intervals. When I come "home" to Baltimore and go to Darchei Tzedek, I have no idea how everyone knows what the parsha is, what page the haftorah is on, etc.

  2. You are truly an elevated human being. I have all the same issues about being a woman in an Orthodox shul (and, oh! so many more) but when I talk about them, I am so angry, it's hard for me to speak calmly, let alone with humor. I'm mighty impressed with your take. It doesn't make me any less angry, but it does demonstrate how it's possible that these things don't enrage every other woman in shul.