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What Shuckel Position do you Assume?

The Shmona esray shuffle:

You know those people that clear a huge area around them, and angrily grab a chair to put in front of them as if to box themselves into their own little room. They then proceed to do what I call the violent spin cycle shuckel, they sway back and forth usually in a forward motion, though I have seen some do it side to side, fast enough to give all those around them a soft breeze, albeit a smelly one sometimes and then they raise their clenched fists and shake them at eye level with their eyes clenched tightly shut and a grimace on their face as if they were constipated. Then you have the peaceful sawyers who sway and assume the Y in the YMCA dance pose, their outstretched arms bent slightly at the elbow, palms flat and extended into the air. You can almost hear them saying why me G-d, why me? They sway oblivious to the other daveners focused solely on the prayer at hand. How about the back and forth side to side sawyers, the gartel wearers usually assume this pose, it kinda looks like they are those folks who cannot really hoola-hoop but try it anyway, you know the hoola-hoop sway minus all the hip action that enables the hoop to spin. To a lesser extent the wacky Zionist NCSY types also frequently assume the more casual hoola-hoop sway.

Then there are the folks that do the traditional shuckel, back and forth at moderate speed but constantly ring their hands together as if they were doing the Health Department approved washing of hands for food service employees, they shuckel and ring their hands of the imaginary soap. How about the criers, the ones who always cry when they daven, their hands over their faces as if they were licht benching, the tears streaming down and other peoples mumbling muffled by the persons slight murmurs and occasional bawls as he remembers all the bad things he has done since maariv the previous night.

Then there are the folks that do not move at all, they stay perfectly still and when it comes to any bowing that needs to be done they do it as if they were meditating and trying not to disturb any of their followers, a slow smooth rather deep bow for the first couple brachos and then for modim a perfect 90 degree bend will suffice, and then at the end of the whole shebang they bow as they are stepping their three steps back and proceed to wait quietly for the repetition, these people obviously dont have ADD.

Dont forget the women who always seem to do the same as all the other women. Kind of like having the same menstrual cycles when they live together I feel as if the confined space behind the mechitza causes women to all daven exactly the same. Across the mechitza there are all types of shuckel poses, but go to the womens side and there is generally two. There is the siddur in face, combined with the gradual hoola-hoop swaying back and forth ever so slightly producing a small ruffle in their skirts as they go from side to side. Then there a similar shuckel except for the height at which the siddur is held is normally lower just below eye level. Higher then the men who hold their siddurs usually at belly button level, the women always seem to hold their siddurs higher then the men, I cannot figure out why. Once in a rare while usually in a shul with lots of girls who recently were brainwashed in seminary you have the female violent shuckeler. Her fists are usually raised to the rafters and she is shaking them at the ceiling and swaying violently back and forth- but its rare I tell ya to see women doing a straight back forth traditional shuckel almost all women do the side to side hoola-hoop shuckel. I feel that based on my experience with frummy women in the Glatt Mart on Friday afternoons that they would be of the violent shuckel type, after all if they could mow me down in the grocery store with three kids screaming the shopping cart acing to get that last oversized bag of leibers potato chips they must be able to rock the violent shuckel up their in their enclosed one way mirror womens sections. Fortunately or Unfortunately I never get to see inside of the womens sections in frummy shulls since they lock them up and they tend to have separate entrances to prevent hose curious prying eyes of mine from checking out what they really do in that balcony while we do the shmona esray shuffle.

How about the men that always seem to be bowing first to the right and then to the left during the whole shmona esray, they also tend to have their hands clenched in front of them though they dont pretend to be lathering the soap. The side to side bowers many of the time keep their hands perfectly straight at their sides moving with the rhythm of their shuckel. How about the guys that use their shtender or wall as an anchoring device and proceed to push off of it to produce their shuckel as if their own power could not do it, these tend to be less organized shuckels and more randomly placed back and forths at different speeds which have no bearing on anything else the shuckeler may be doing. Then there are those that hunch over their shtenders, usually the same folks who wear huge talesim draped over their heads possibly to hide that I-Pod with the days daf yomi or maybe the latest MBD album playing. These talis drapers also tend to let it go once it falls off their shoulders and kind of wear them like a towel, towel-talis vuts da difference?

Maybe some of you fall into the random shuckeler group of folks who switch it up to keep things interesting. The hoola-hoop side to side gives you motion sickness after a while so you switch to the casual forward sway followed by a bout of the violent get the f— out of my way shuckel that blows cool air onto all the other worshipers. Then all of the sudden you are wringing your hands of the soap suds and trying to be in compliance with the health departments standards and all of the sudden your hands being dry you assume the YMCA pose begging G-d for parnassha and a healthy baby boy. Then you start shaking fists like the Lubavitch Rebbe during his Fabrengins. Yes the schizophrenic shuckler we call you, cant make up your mind, maybe its actually ADD, ADHD or maybe you are trying to gauge the crowd as to what shuckel will make you seem to fit in the most. Maybe a peacefull hand wringing shuckel will allow the women looking down to gauge whether they have a shidduch for you or something. But if you go for the violent shuckel and you are in a modern shull with the whole pew setup youre liable to get into a fight. You also will be looked at with disdain for not keeping the peace possibly, depending on how politically liberal the crowd is.

I almost forgot the unaffiliated Jew who doesnt know what they are doing shuckel. You know the type, yellow teepee yarmulke siddur held up to their stomach, talis worn like a scarf and feet placed in army stance, looking around to se everyone else is doing but still cant seem to figure out that during shmona esray people stand with their feet together. It never ceases to amaze me how many people cant figure out the whole feet together thing.

I bet your all wondering what kind of shuckel the author busts out during his three time a day addiction. I have the normal forward shuckel at medium speed. For some reason the side to side or hoola-hoop as I have referred to I makes me lose my balance and gives me a slight bout of vertigo, the violent shuckel is just too dramatic, though on the high holidays not out of kavana reasons but out of need some blood circulation reasons I tend to kick the shuckel into high gear. I also figure that I could meld into the crowd better and catch some breeze if I were to shake faster. I just cant do the crying thing it never works. The harder I try to have kavana on the high holidays the more my thoughts wander to sexual fantasies about the girls I only get to see when I make a bathroom run. So I stick to normal shuckels, but I tend to do a little 7th inning stretch mid vidoy and grab one leg and pull it back and then do the other, sometimes I even bust a little pre-kedusha exercises to wake my toes up after standing at attention for so long.

If you have any other shuckel types Ill be glad to add them.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • January 11, 2007, 7:05 PM

    How on Earth do you have time to write all this… stuff? You probably have more words per day than any J-blogger.

  • January 11, 2007, 7:33 PM

    So nu did you like it?
    Time is a wierd thing with me. First off I have been sitting here for a few months looking for a job. But most of my blogs are written by stream of consciuosness(eplled incorectly I am sure) and especially the frummy ones- this one took me a total of 20 minutes to write. I was in the car and I thought of one line and built the whole post off of one random thought. I do carry around a little notepad to allow me to quickly jot my thoughts down.

    Its funny because even when Iq

  • January 11, 2007, 7:34 PM

    sorry comp went berserk. Anyways when the weather is good you will notice I dont write very often. Gotta get out and ride, hike, kayak or just plain old wander around some random places in upstate ny.

    So nu did you like the post?

  • January 11, 2007, 9:12 PM

    You clearly need a girlfriend, man.

  • January 11, 2007, 10:43 PM

    Is it me, or do some people look like they’re humping something when shuckling?

    I may be guilty of this myself.

  • January 11, 2007, 10:54 PM

    No what I need is some snow.

  • January 12, 2007, 12:37 PM

    Your observations are always pretty much on the mark. I see you’re always mentioning upstate NY, but your perceptions encompass a 15-mile radius around Brooklyn (Ir HaKodesh)

  • January 12, 2007, 3:25 PM

    RE: A23

    Well I reside in upstate NY and have for some time but I grew up on the Upper West and am related to and freinds with a very random assortment of ppl, due to the fact that I attended Yeshiva but also participate in a variety of things that frum people selodm do. Like extreme sports, small town America wandering and working for State in the capacity as Camp food program inspector that allows me to come up with more material based on my Catskills summer sociological perspective. You should read my BIO or link to my frumster profile. I am very random and relish in my wierdness- I am a hobby snob so to speak.

  • January 13, 2007, 11:50 PM

    Once in a rare while usually in a shul with lots of girls who recently were brainwashed in seminary you have the female violent shuckeler.


  • February 1, 2007, 1:19 PM

    How about the folks who shuckel both ways and clap at the same time- then they do the whole rubbing their hands to lather up a soap thing. Great post man!

  • February 13, 2007, 10:18 AM

    I think I would put them into the violent spin cycle shuckel. They also tend to shake their fists as if you just cut them off on the ever famous Brooklyn Bridge off ramp.

  • March 13, 2007, 7:31 PM

    I think women have anothing type of shuckel, the “I’m too modest to shuckel” shuckel. Most women do this, it’s the back and forth shuckel but only hard enough for the person sitting next to you to see if they are completely still (did that make sense?) or just hard enough to make their skirt lightly hit the back of their legs. I notice only the middle-aged married women do this while their daughters shuckel a bit harder, but still the back and forth kind of shuckel. As for me I do the same back and forth at a medium pace, all the others seem to be over the top. I have never witnessed the shaking of the fists by the women nor the hoola-hoopy shuckel.

  • March 13, 2007, 8:07 PM

    What is the deal with women folding their arms and placing one arm on the folded arm at a right angle and then putting their siddur right up to their face?

  • March 14, 2007, 1:31 PM

    I only see the younger girls doing this, I think it’s so they don’t get distracted, or maybe it’s to hide that they’re looking at the boys. As for the older women who do this it’s probably because they need reading glasses and can’t see from afar. I do it because I suck at reading hebrew.

  • March 15, 2007, 8:18 AM

    So why don’t women ever get into it like men- going with the violent spin cycle shuckel or raisin g their fists in the air and screaming at God or to him shall we say.

    Maybe its untznius- but you shouldn’t interrupt your shmona esray for anything- even to fix your bra straps that are hanging out from all the shuckeling you are doing.

    Or maybe only the real frummies do it man style with all the shaking and screaming and therefore they are up stairs and you can never actually see what goes on unless you go to shull in drag.

  • March 15, 2007, 10:44 AM

    hahahaha, well I guess some of us aren’t that committed, I mean some think- “why should we be? We’re not counted in a minyan and we can’t speak from the bimah. We’re not even expected to get to shul on time!” If less is expected of women the less they’ll do I suppose. I gert weird looks as it is shuckeling stronger than the “I’m too modest to shuckel” shuckel. But maybe it’s true that “only the real frummies do it man style.”

  • March 22, 2007, 11:48 PM

    Hahaha, I totally understand the guy who said that some people shuckle as if they are having sex with the air. I went to Israel with this guy who always davened mincha with his eyes closed, hands in fists like he was a boxer, and humping whatever passed by.

  • May 29, 2007, 1:36 AM

    i seen some guys davening like their skiing

  • May 29, 2007, 7:21 AM

    Moshe you are right on the money with the skiing- they have their fist down like they are holding the poles and their middle bodies are going side to side.

    Its funny because when they sit down- their sit down shuckels almost remind me of someone who fell on skis and cant get up- trying and trying but still just shaking around like idiots.

  • May 29, 2007, 7:21 AM

    >>>Hahaha, I totally understand the guy who said that some people shuckle as if they are having sex with the air.

    LOL, yes!. I don’t feel I am humping air when I shuckle. (I do the motion without the fists) but I try not to stare through the mechitza during davening cause when I see young men doing that motion, my mind wanders. lol.Need to get that mind out of the gutter. lol.

  • May 29, 2007, 7:56 AM

    I think the idea of a mechitza adds to the “mind in the gutter” complex. If you were right next to us- there would be no folly- but throw up a wall and it resembles a peep show making everyones minds wander.

  • June 17, 2007, 1:21 AM

    “What is the deal with women folding their arms and placing one arm on the folded arm at a right angle and then putting their siddur right up to their face?”-I was JUST going to add that to the list. Though I do that and shuckle at a normal speed. But I dont hold the siddur THAT close to my face.

    Oh, and there are woman who violantly shuckle out there, those are the onse who just came home from seminary and have a 2 hour davening because they read the hebrew and english.

  • June 18, 2007, 9:04 AM

    Most of the violent shuckler women I have seen are the types that have equality issues- they also tend to knock you down when grabbing for the sinking cholent spoon.

  • Josh November 26, 2007, 11:49 PM

    Hey I am loving your random posts thing on the sidebar, finding all sorts of stuff I never saw and am too lazy to find in the archives. Great post by the way.

  • Michael January 24, 2008, 9:37 PM

    When I was in yeshiva in Monsey we had this one guy who…I don’t even know if I can describe it in print.

    He would bounce up and down by flexing his knees, while simultaneously bowing forward and then upright, like one of those old drinking bird things, but while he was doing all that, his hands were clasped together and on the down-shuckle he would thrust them violently toward his abdomen – as though trying to disembowel himself.

    He did this by shemona esrey. He did this while washing for bread. He did this while saying asher yatzar. I think he did it while sorting his laundry.

  • heshman January 25, 2008, 1:53 AM

    Funny as it may seem I know exactly what you are talking about and cannot describe it better then you did, maybe I will make a you tube video about it.

  • CA April 29, 2009, 12:54 AM

    I am a hybrid between hoola-hooper and the silent type. On motzei Shabbos, someone asked me during maariv why I dont shuckle during Amidah (which I do most of the time, actually). I felt like giving him a finger.

  • oy vey August 28, 2009, 2:36 PM

    haha i think that girls hold up their siddurs for two reasons:
    1. those siddurs are heavy!
    2. it helps concentration

    those are my reasons at least.

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