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Bime Hockers and Bima Slumpers: An inside look at bima real estate

All you need to know is that Bima Hockers are the dudes standing around the bima that orchestrate everything. How they came to be Bima Hockers is another story, they may have first been the signal guy signing to the lainer and telling him how to sing the trup and quietly telling him how to pronounce certain things. They may have been thrown out of the Kiddush club for bringing brandy or some sort of flavored whiskey. Maybe its the past president who didnt get the reelect, usually the gabbi is one of them- the chief bima hocker really.

Then of course you have the Bima Slumpers. The guys whose only makom kavua is slumped over the bima or the posts surrounding the bima platform. These guys also tend to be the victims of involuntary talis hijacks by the bima hockers whos chief job is to make sure everything goes smoothly during laining.

Sometimes these bima hockers will also act as the cool guys who feel that every time someone does hagba they have to put their arms up in defense of the torah in case it shall fall. It seems that no matter how strong the hagba doer is- someone will throw their hands up and make believe like an accident is imminent. Maybe they just have to keep hogging all the bima spotlight and act like they actually needed- since they usually just crowd up the precious space on the bima- and waste the few tikuns that may be available. The bima hockers also tend to be the guys that control the flow of the gelila supplies as they are passed to the shull reject who is making a fool of himself while trying to figure out how to close the bra-like clasp on the gartel. The few left over bima slumpers on the sidelines who never made it up to the actual platform stand and mumble under their breaths about the poor job the gelila guy is doing- all the while dictating instructions as to how to put the cover on the torah and at the same time keeping the gelila persons talis from falling to the floor.

Then you have those shulls that have the chains to bind the torah securely to the bima as the second torah is whipped out. Usually one of the folks standing on the side of the bima slumping over it will start playing with these chains, making a racket and causing one of the cool guys surrounding the bima to hush him up. Then of course its always interesting to see how far up the garbage is inside the hollow area where the torah stems go. The two little holes for the torah scroll provide the right amount of light to glimpse a couple old bazooka wrappers and left over Sunkist candy from the last candy throwing event.

Candy throwing is also one of those events where the bima hocker and others standing at point blank can make themselves feel important even though the bima hockers tend to be the folks of the class that is too nerdy and torah knowledgable to be invited to the kiddish clubs and hence had to shoot for the next best thing- catching the baal koreh thirty times in a row is almost as good as speaking loshon horah over a a few shots of scotch during the haftorah.

Two bima hockers are always needed to push down the head of the bar mitzvah boy as well as to put up the talis as a candy blocking barrier. As the projectiles of candy land mostly short of the bima since the women tend to get more candy to compensate for the meager existence in the shull- little kids scamper around with the occasional fat kid that looks ten years older then his age- this is the chance for the bima hockers to yell at kids who may have taken too much candy and they then tell them some bull shit Marxist doctrine on why every child deserves equal amounts of Sunkist fruit gems and those pasty sesame seed things.

By far the most important and coolest job of the bima personnel is that of the laining conductor. The guy who gets to use all the gang signs in existence to try and help the lainer who can see the thumb dippings with clarity through their peripheral vision. I always felt that someone should have a convention and help generalize the signs made so that every baal koreh and signer guy could interact freely without messing up because the thump dip meant to stop the laining instead of speeding it up. Its kind of like when all the states had their own mints and banks wouldnt honor other states paper currency- well what do you do when you have a guest baal koreh?

Another job of the bima hocker is to talis hijack this one of the folks being called to the torah is not wearing a talis, usually the victim of the talis snatching is standing up at the bima or one of the bima slumpers themselves. Its always funny when some unsuspecting bima slumper looks up to notice his talis flying up to the bima. They also tend to make it clear that they dont think the person called to the torah would actually know the brachos by heart and therefore they make it clear by removing the multiple layers of stuff that block the bracha sheet from human eyes. All of the sudden a pile of tikuns, suddurim and gabbi handbooks are strewn about to make way for the aliyah guy who tries to show the gabbi whos boss by saying the brachos by heart and proving him and his bracha sheet removal tactic wrong.

There are also those situations when the talis is not used and there fore the gartel must be produced from under yet another pile of bima stuff that piles on top of everything that gets caught in its path. Old yads, perocheses and misheberach sheets lay about as the gabbi or bima hocker- depending on who is quicker can give the gartel or other device to kiss the torah. Gabbis and bima hockers are in constant competition as to see who is faster and cooler. Gabbis till this day retain the job of passing out the little plastic aliyah cards and calling the person up- while the random jobs go to the bima hockers.

Bima slumpers have different statuses in different shulls. In some they are the holy guys who try to shuckel the whole davening. In some shulls bima slumpers are the talkers with their own little club up at the bima distributing snuff and tax evasion secrets. In other shulls the bima slumpers are the folks trying to evade the talking going on in the pews.

Of course all of this is majorly dependant on the type of bima situation in the first place. The stand alone bima without a platform like that found in many shteebles- can be tricky- since the bima slumpers must be systematically removed when laining time comes- some may linger in the area acting as mistake catchers so they keep their prime makom kavua for later prayers. Others go solemnly to their seats only to lose their spots right after laining to a new crowd of bima slumpers. The stand alone bima is usually the site of hocking and chatter in shteebles. The real estate guys and nursing home hockers discuss trade secrets as they shuckel and daven between talking.

Enter the platform bima and all of this changes, the bima slumper is welcome as long as there are actual rails on which they can slump, and put their siddurim or seforim. Children also love the platform bima, because it gives them a good vantage point to find their mothers in the womens section- as well as a great thing to run around when its time to disturb davening usually right before the torah comes out of the ark. The platform bima is usually complemented by the frontal bima at which much of the actual davening takes place, or it creates the switch-aroo seen in many shulls between kabalas shabbos and maariv.

In the weekdays bima hockers morph into clopping maniacs. They tend to try and beat each other out as to who can clop and mumble the shmona esray insertion under their breath the loudest when they come to it during davening. Next time you hear ten vsane-tal-umuters youll know it was the work of a bima hocker. They love to clop the bima, that is when the platform bima excels- causing much louder and more echo in the clop then if it were a normal ground bima.

Always remember to tip your bima hocker who gave you an aliyah, on shabbos you must give a bunch of yasher koachs to a bunch of folks who you noticed wipe their noses with those same hands. I always wondered how they actually decide who gets an aliyah other then cohens and dignitaries like the Rabbi and the hatzolah dudes which of course are fellow hockers. I think it may have swomething to do with tipping but who really knows what goes through the mind of a hocker. I mean they do for some reason like to turn their walki-talki’s on high to try and disturb everyone during shmona esray- so they can show how cool EMT folks are- so maybe the giving of aliyahs is another whacked out hocker process that does not go by any theory at all.

Bima hockers also have an uncanny ability to get back at anyone who ever wronged them. No they will not appoint someone who is a known drug abuser to hagba- letting you see their track marks and fearing for your life as he goes into shock and drops the torah. Nope, they will do it undercover, just to make you think they have nothing against you and everything happened by chance. For instance they can give pesicha to a Kiddush club member- knowing that he will hobble in drunk to do the putting away portion. They can give someone who hates to stand up during kadish a very long aliyah like the fourth one from parshas nasso. Or perhaps they will give the man with terretz syndrome the task of gelila. Maybe they will give someone who is a known ADD sufferer the task of holding the torah during one of those double header weeks, or maybe you have been showing off your esrog like the guy in ushpizim and you get stuck with holding the torah for hoshanos- the best time to show your shiznit and rock your esrog on those spinning rims.

You see the bima hocker might be scoffed at for making those damned misheberachs take forever by letting the last minute name rememberers who also seem to be making up names anyway get their names in before the gates close. He might even be laughed at by the current president who took his cushy seat up next to the Israeli flag, and he may even be ignored by all the shull talkers when he stops laining to quiet down everyone. But no one really can mess with you quite like the bima hocker, they are sneaky ones I tell ya.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • June 2, 2007, 8:26 PM

    Not bad. You need to focus your writing a little, though. This could have been 5 or so different, very good posts: a)Bima hockers b)Bima slumpers c)Gabbai politics d)Talis hijacking and e)Shul hockers in general

  • June 2, 2007, 8:31 PM

    I know but one of my trademarks to the chagrin of many are long posts with tons of information. The problem with splitting it up, which I used to do a bit- is that I end up burying my posts so that no one even gets to the other parts of the series- so I’ll just put it all up at once and get it over with.

  • June 2, 2007, 9:58 PM

    ” I always felt that someone should have a convention and help generalize the signs made so that every baal koreh and signer guy could interact freely without messing up because the thump dip meant to stop the laining instead of speeding it up.”

    i’ve been messed up by gabbaim who used different hand signals when i used to lein. but there are established conventions and you can still them in use with some sephardi (esp. yemenite) shuls.

    one aspect you omitted from bimah politics are the shul presidents (or other office holders) who forget about the division of powers and think it is their business to dictate to the gabbaim how to run their show.

  • June 2, 2007, 10:45 PM

    How do u have time to write all this??

  • June 3, 2007, 2:01 AM

    (sigh) Yep. More shtuyos from galus. You post is so true, it hurts. I wish I could say that we “Yehudaei Eretz Yisrael” were entirely free from this crap, but we’re not. I think you may have left out the most annoying part: How these guys and others close by are quick to correct the ba’al qore’,…even when it’s something they’re not supposed correct him on. Let’s call all these behaviors by their true description: “Am Ha’Artzi”

  • June 3, 2007, 3:05 AM

    >>>one aspect you omitted from bimah politics are the shul presidents (or other office holders) who forget about the division of powers and think it is their business to dictate to the gabbaim how to run their show.

    Totally agree.

  • June 3, 2007, 9:20 AM

    Its all political- a bunch of dudes who either didn’t get reelected to some lofty “sit at the front of the shull next to the rabbi” position or folks who are big nerds who never get invited to the kiddush club.

    I have been to shulls where the Rabbi will state that there is only one person in the shull who corrects the baal koray- this is nice because I feel sometimes it just becomes a terribly embarrassing situation of everyone trying to show how frum they are by catching the most mistakes.

  • June 3, 2007, 12:27 PM

    you realize that none of these are “frum” issues – theyre “male” issues. male egos and male arrogance and male insecurities at their best. all this stuff goes on in the most non religious shuls..to a tee
    it’s hilarious to watch – the women get a good laugh 🙂

  • June 3, 2007, 7:19 PM

    Yo yourself just confirmed that it is in fact a frum issue- if you would have said mixed seating shulls or shulls where women were also bima hockers- then your theory would have flown.

  • June 4, 2007, 1:42 AM

    you left out the guys who do apeals off the bimah during yom tov

  • June 4, 2007, 7:01 AM

    Bimah Machers make the Minyan go round!

  • June 4, 2007, 12:03 PM

    I don’t think it has anything to do with male ego or arrogance. It’s all about politics. I stay away as far as I can from the shul politics. I vote once a year to make sure the reform/deform club don’t hold a majority vote in anything, after all my shul should stay Orthodox. 🙂
    I agree with Ari and Bima Hockers also supply you with additional entertainment on Shabbes.

  • June 4, 2007, 10:31 PM

    It’s not a ‘male issue.’ At my Shul this little old lady always corrects the baal koreh- and if she doesn’t catch it then some old bima slumper corrects the lainer.

  • June 5, 2007, 6:41 AM

    “I have been to shulls where the Rabbi will state that there is only one person in the shull who corrects the baal koray”

    Glad to hear it.

    ” this is nice because I feel sometimes it just becomes a terribly embarrassing situation of everyone trying to show how frum they are by catching the most mistakes.”

    exactly,…and annoying, and comical, and Am HaArtzi.

  • Rach February 24, 2008, 2:43 AM

    I dunno about all the politics, but i loved the second last paragraph, funny stuff, and the part about the ‘Marxist doctrine’, equality for all with candy for the kids, as usual, great work Hesh!

  • Rach February 24, 2008, 2:44 AM

    Wow, i really dug this out of the gutter, didn’t look at the date on this thing! 😛

  • Hesh February 24, 2008, 9:12 AM

    Thank you Rach I really love it when people do some digging and get to the older “lost” posts. I also really liked this post- and am going to do a video with the material at some point.

  • Rach February 24, 2008, 10:13 AM

    You should take a video camera to shul and put together a ‘real’ video, a mixture of your narrations and people doing things at shul…

  • New Fan July 3, 2008, 9:23 PM

    Hey you have got to do a post on the bima cloppers!

  • Beezer August 20, 2008, 2:45 PM

    Dude, we forget one important thing which the guy before me mentiones. The Bima Cloppers. They have their calendars wired in their brains to clop hard on the bima. Hard enough to break it and to leave a red mark on their palms. All for the sake of the Klal!!! Oh and if they were to froget to Clop, then you see a mad dash between wanna be hockers as to who wil clop and then they all clop after the other. Its really funny.

  • Something to add February 24, 2009, 2:21 PM

    what about those guys who sit in the back rows of Young Israels read the paper talk abut sports and drink a cup of instant coffee or 2?

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