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Fun times at the Young Israel of KGH

I looked around and it appeared that I was a minority, I had a full head of hair and it wasn’t gray or white. I sat glumly on the smooth wooden bench and propped my head up onto my arm that was draped over the edge of the bench. An old mans butt poked into my face as he fuddled with his cane and tried to get over me, saying that I should stay seated and not get up. I tried to pear into the ladies section, but knew it was hopeless, not that I couldn’t see too well, but that I was the only one with my real teeth still in tact.

The shul hocker/talker sat right in back of me. He started chatting with the man who had informed me that I was wasting my time in that shul, for there would be no Kiddush that week. The started talking loudly, about the man who was laining.

“Who’s laining, is that Dr. Kay?”

Yeh I think so, whatever happened to Avi? Is he in Israel. Real Smart kid I tell ya. Jacks getting into medicine I hear.

“Dr Kay huh, nice man, wife is nice too.”

Then across the aisle I see an older man getting up and the shul talker in back of me talking about how nice Dr Kays wife is shouts across the see of old carpet and birnbaum prayer books.

“Hey (Saul, or Harvey or Mirv or Murray)- it seems that all modern orthodox Jewish men with gray hair have the same names. So the shul talker yells, hey Mirv, need some oil to get up or something.”

Mirv waves his cane in a joking fashion and adjusts his talis and pants that are way to high on the stomach.

Then the talking guy turns taps me on the shoulder and asks who I am, why am I not in the “young marrieds” minyan as they call it. I usually hate those minyanim, usually the young newlywed minyans are filled with too-cool nursing home administrators who wear pink striped shirts and talk the whole davening about the newest Lexus at Wheels to Lease. I tell him that him and his cronies are providing me with so much entertainment that I couldn’t possibly leave now- for I am getting a biography on everyone in shul.

In fact like all shul regulars, they are fussing over who is not present that shabbos and where they might be. I have already learned that Harvey is tired from visiting with the grandkids, Saul was feeling indigestion and Harriet didn’t like the humidity.

Then the Rabbi stopped the laining and several folks yelled “shhhhhhhhhh” from across the aisle. Dear shul talker guy yells back at some unseen person and says “hey Marvin, your I thought your hearing aids don’t work?” It was very funny, to see these grumpy old men yelling at each other and laughing at the same time. There were several under 50 year olds including my self, but I doubt they were having as much fun as I was.

Of course then we had to play the requisite round of Jewish Geography, he knows my boss, he knows a bunch of people I know and so on. I was even going to give him my card for my blog- but I couldn’t grow the balls to do it, I printed up a bunch of free business cards, but am too chicken to give them out.

Then this Rabbi gets up to speak, and I was looking forward because he was going to talk about the Pope. But then he started talking about pesach halacha, and I mosied on down to the young marrieds minyan as they called it.

As expected it was a room of small groups of young men with talesim talking about diapers, used cars and real estate deals. Besides the fact there were no chairs, it was very hot in the room and very cold at the same time, it wasn’t nearly as friendly and fun as upstairs, I went back and did a breakaway musaf and busted out of there into the 70 degree morning.

{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Left Brooklyn and never looked back April 15, 2008, 12:19 PM

    Hesh, your post is funny and sad at the same time. I haven’t been in a Young Israel (KGH or any other for that matter) in years but it does bring back memories. Though I do remember the congregants being a bit younger, I guess they all migrated to the “young marrieds” minyan. BTW, were there any women at the “young marrieds” minyan?? And was anyone davening down there???

  • Xvi April 15, 2008, 12:45 PM

    As a KGH resident, I dont have much to say about the YI. Its an oddly impersonal place. I’ve been there many times (Its my go-to place for shabossim when I wake up after 9:45) but I never feel like its anything other than a place to catch a minyan. The young-married minyan is hosted in the bunker/catering hall/gymnasium and its just an uncomfortable place to be. No matter what parshah, the Rabbbi’s speech is always about killing our “cousins” and our inherent rights to the land.

    In the future, may I humbly reccomend R’ Arieli’s shul. Its the perfect confusion of various shul types. They daven sefard but it still feels like a “young israel tefillah.” The place has black hats, colorful yarmulkas and even a few black guys to mix it up. It looks like a serious place but its still easy-going, with enough pockets of chatter to keep anyone occupied if they wanted it.

    As an ex-flatbush guy it just felt like home.

  • heshman April 15, 2008, 12:50 PM

    Oh this place was awesome- I had a ball- I love old fellows who talk to loud during shul.

    I personally like chilled shuls where everyone is walking around and just chilling. If I wanted to daven I would stay home, shul is for the shul experience, which includes looking inside peoples ears during the speech, over at the ladies and finding cool emails from random shuls in Brooklyn to read.

  • Left Brooklyn and never looked back April 15, 2008, 12:54 PM

    Hesh, you crack me up! Keep on posting.

  • heshman April 15, 2008, 12:57 PM

    I aint going nowhere.

  • s(b.) April 15, 2008, 1:11 PM

    Sounds like the guys at the PAL office (Police Activity League). Great bunch of cats, always got good jokes — like a neighborhood bar without beer, pool and jukebox.

  • MSG April 15, 2008, 1:23 PM

    Xvi said..
    “No matter what parshah, the Rabbbi’s speech is always about killing our “cousins” and our inherent rights to the land.”

    That’s true and very sad. He wasn’t always that way. I’m a member there for 40 years… grew up there… his speeches were always Israel-centric but in a very positive tone… about the centrality of Israel to us etc.

    But for the past decade (and more probably) he’s been bashing anyone who doesn’t conform 100% to the right wing ideology… and then of course once a year or so (Tisha Ba’av for example) speaks about the evils of Sinas Chinam.

    It’s really a typical and sad example of the YI and MO jump to the far right.

  • menashe April 15, 2008, 1:38 PM

    there’s more to Yiddishkeit than the land. sheesh.

    how about Torah, Avodah and Gemillos Chassadim for example?

  • mikeinmidwood April 15, 2008, 1:50 PM

    great post

  • s(b.) April 15, 2008, 3:09 PM

    right on, menashe. bilvavi/home/heart/wherever I am.

  • Anonymous KGH-er April 15, 2008, 4:09 PM

    Xvi-
    The davening at R’ Arieli’s is a joke. Maybe it’s just me, but why does the kiddush need to be set up in the women’s section DURING davening? Maybe we don’t need to hear Chazaras Hashatz because we are second class citizens? Give me a YI davening any day

  • Headbanger April 15, 2008, 4:21 PM

    There’s one shul like this left in Flatbush, it’s called Etz Chaim. Every classic you mention about the old people still exists in this shul including the “SHHHHHING” with laughing and everyone wondering where the one absentee is. The shul is a riot because it doesn’t belong anymore in this rapidly frumming out environment. So it you want a taste of the past that’s where I would go. The rabbi has to bang at least 50 times during one tefilla which helps for about 3 seconds.

  • Michael April 15, 2008, 4:34 PM

    hey i went there once that place is got a real kiddush club

  • suitepotato April 15, 2008, 5:28 PM

    This post is why I read this blog.

  • utubefan April 15, 2008, 6:58 PM

    “usually the young newlywed minyans are filled with too-cool nursing home administrators who wear pink striped shirts and talk the whole davening about the newest Lexus at Wheels to Lease.”

    Nah, that was Arieli’s shul.

    And, that is why the ex-Brooklynites feel comfortable there. What we did notice and like about Arieli was that his kids would clean up after Shul was over, swept the floor and everything. The Rebetzin was also very hands-on. We haven’t yet found a Shul where the Rav’s family is invested.

    My husband loves the crotchedy old men and would take them any day over the Lexus, pink-tied guys. Problem is everyone in Monsey is young and boring.

  • heshman April 15, 2008, 7:24 PM

    Its true- there are no old foggies in Monsey, no old men recalling the good old days before the highways were built and when hot dogs costs quarter.

    Brooklyn has the best old men by far- or I can imagine the Bronx does as well.

  • the cool one April 15, 2008, 7:53 PM

    I was once there and this other younger yeshivah was there for some reason. anyway the guy was answering amen in a really loud voice, so an old guy tells him that god is not deaf and theres no reason to shout. That shut him up and I laughed my ass off.

  • Headbanger April 15, 2008, 8:46 PM

    I forgot to mention that indeed Etz Chaim has a real Kiddush club during the torah reading. I once walked in to get a cup of soda and they nearly cut off my nuts.

  • M April 16, 2008, 1:23 PM

    Very funny! Thanks for the laugh. This was written pretty well. (excepting the usual spelling mistakes :0 )

  • heshman April 16, 2008, 2:20 PM

    Always have to be mentioning my poor spelling eh

  • M April 16, 2008, 10:04 PM

    Usually not me, can’t take me on that one. 🙂

  • P April 17, 2008, 1:27 PM

    Hesh,
    I gotta say that the Young Israel of KGH is not soo “young”. I went to the young marrieds minyan there for like 5 months, too much talking and also they were not soo friendly.
    I daven in the basement of YCQ across the street. Nicer people, better kiddushim and the Rav is dynamic and personable, and YOUNG :-).

    Have a great Pesach!

  • heshman April 17, 2008, 1:29 PM

    You know what I walked into the Basement shul and it was way too hot, I only went there because I know a bunch of my fans daven there and I figured I could chap a meal- in the end (about 2 min) in I decided it wasn’t worth the sweat

  • Anonymous April 30, 2008, 12:39 AM

    Chaval for such a sad review of my much beloved shul. As one on the other side of the mechitzah, with thankfully all my teeth intact, I will concede our shul is certainly on the older end. And while it may lack the Mt. Sinai Friday night hocker scene, the warm family feel of the congregation, is well worth it. Besides, the Rabbi’s speeches while yes political, are certainly inspirational, and very much talk about issues that are nogeah banu and not just nice vortlach. (Note: Rabbi did cover Pope issue at length the Shabbat before his visit…)

    Guess to each their own….

  • Hesh April 30, 2008, 10:17 AM

    Funny because this was supposed to be a good review- in fact I will willingly come back to Queens now that I have found a place to daven that is entertaining. I think you may be confused by my revue and the comments- certainly most of the commenters dislike the shul because of its old timers- this is why I love it.

  • J May 8, 2008, 3:16 PM

    The best is when I was at the KGH Young Israel for Shachris Shabbos day. Some guy just starts eating almonds inthe middle of the Torah reading.

  • enrique August 28, 2010, 12:49 PM

    cant believe someone tried to break into paris hiltons home

  • Alte Cocker March 7, 2012, 9:52 PM

    ^ Well, that was an odd comment.

    Anyway, what’s with all the dirty comments? One guy talks about “balls” and another guy says they wanted to “cut his nuts off” for getting a cup of soda.

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