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Guest Writer: 5 people every shul must have to survive

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5 people every shul must have to survive

by David Sheril

1. The Candyman
The candyman deserving of this list is the gentleman who does the job properly. He doesn’t chat to the children during davening, but smiles warmly and hands them a candy when they excitedly arrive at his seat to wish him a soft-spoken “Good Shabbos” and collect their reward. If he’s a real pro, lollipops (a.k.a. candy on a stick) will be his weapon of choice so that each child will be so engrossed with trying to fit the whole thing in his/her mouth they will forget the primary reasons their fathers brought them to shul in the first place – A. To disrupt the services. B. So that their mothers, back at home, will be driven a little less crazy.
G-d bless the candyman for instilling even an arbitrary reason in 5 year olds to come to Shul on Shabbos.

2. The “Shusher”
Before I expound on this personality, I must again make a distinction. I praise the “shusher” who aids the decorum of a Shul. But the overly zealous nut, who hisses at you every time you as much as cough, has no place in my ideal congregation. Now back to business.
“The Shusher” is the (usually) self appointed Guardian of the Noise Level. Rather than disrupt the flow of davening/leining with a Wimbledon umpire-like “quiet please”, he prefers to use the fast but potent hissing sound so familiar to us all. Sure, there was a large chunk of your life during which you hated this man with a passion, but by now you understand the importance and sanctity of not talking incessantly during davening. Let’s be honest – it’s thanks to this individual’s vehement shushing (often partnered with an icy stare) that even the most pioneering yapper is silenced. Also, his accepting this duty relieves you of this somewhat unpopular chore, making sure that it’s not your tires slashed or house burnt down when Purim comes around.

3. The All-Star Chazzan
This individual is kept in the figurative dugout for that shacharis + hallel situation. Never one to schlep (very important!), nor obsessed with hearing the sound of his own voice, this chazzan delivers a well paced davening full of upbeat, fun tunes which are popular/traditional enough that everyone knows them and can sing along (see article “10 people every Shul has, and shouldn’t” under category “Unknown Tune Chazzan”). This person almost single-handedly keeps the “geshmak” in davening time and again, and should be highly appreciated for his efforts.

4. The Professional Gabbai
While it’s true that these men are usually veterans with a good half decade or so of the job under their belt, but that doesn’t deter from my point. This individual is the essence of a smooth running service. He knows who’s going to lead which tefillah and who’s getting which aliyah (with only a cursory glance at the “gabbai files” ahead of time, to remind himself of the prospective oleh’s name). He calls people to the Torah in a loud, clear voice and delivers 5 “Mi Shebeirach”s in 45 seconds flat, including within them everyone from the oleh’s wife to their best friends pet. This is the top of the Shul’s true hierarchy, the real man in charge.

5. The Particular Ba’al Koreh
By particular I mean a man who is “makpid” on correct pronunciation, and even knows some basic Hebrew grammar. Here’s a newsflash for 75% of self-proclaimed ba’alei koreh out there: the “trop” (cantillation) is secondary to knowing which syllable of a word is emphasized, using the correct vowel and, most importantly, being meticulous that a beis is read a beis, and a veis (without the dot) is pronounced a veis (same goes for kaf and chaf).

Most people (myself included) want the pace of the guy leining to average twice the speed of sound, but if those supersonic words are mispronounced, you might as well abolish leining entirely!
The flip side of that (at least for me) is that if the person leining is first-rate, I don’t really mind their speed, but if their able to incorporate all the above and deliver at a clipped pace, then more power to them!

Like this post? Check out these similar ones:

8 people every shul has but shouldn’t

Shul attention deficit disorder

Uf Ruf candy skills

{ 62 comments… add one }
  • Jacob da Jew December 7, 2008, 2:51 PM

    Dude, you nailed the candyman role.

    “B. So that their mothers, back at home, will be driven a little less crazy.”

    How true! And my daughter is 3 not 5 but it still works

  • Mikeinmidwood December 7, 2008, 4:24 PM

    You forgot the rabbi. Oh, hes not important.

  • Anon December 7, 2008, 6:08 PM

    Interesting that neither this post nor the post with people each shul has but shouldn’t are all about men. Are there no women at your shul?

  • sheva December 7, 2008, 6:35 PM

    please don’t forget the…
    1.The Smelly man
    2.The open the window man
    3. The close the window man
    4. The must have in all shuls… the Flatulent man
    5. And for the ladys …the bring all my kids to shul and they fill there plates untill they resemble little towers of cake and nosh before ,the Rabbi has even made kiddush mother, and she also allows them all to sit while there is the poor bubbes standing becasue her 13 kids all under the age of 7 are taking up the whole tish.

    • Zvi Lampert January 26, 2010, 1:46 AM


  • shevers December 7, 2008, 6:46 PM

    I love those mothers that allow their kids to knock over old men heading towards the food after Yom Kippur…

  • Frum Satire December 7, 2008, 7:11 PM

    Anon it should be mentioned that the people writing these posts are men- the other thing is that shul in orthodox circles is centered around men- what do women do for shul?

    They come late, choke up the coat room with their strollers and block kids from going to kiddush early.

    • Zvi Lampert January 26, 2010, 1:48 AM

      Thae also have their little clicky fashion show pissing contest outside during leining.

  • Ari December 7, 2008, 11:18 PM

    This one’s for the ladies:

    – The Rocker: Sways way more vigorously than necessary. Would give most men a run for their money. Recent seminary graduate.

    – The Activist: Puts on tallis and tfillin, and says kaddish. You got a problem with that?

    – The Town Crier: Calls out corrections and reminders to the shul president during announcements.

    – The Mad Hatter: Peruvian bowler one week, cowboy hat the next.

    – The Doily Doll: Wears lace doily (or yarmulka) as head covering.

    – The Latecomer: Kids have already been in shul with daddy for hours . . . she sails in five minutes before Aleinu. (You go, girl!)

  • shevers December 7, 2008, 11:21 PM

    The Rocker usually bows at 90 degree angles during the amidah.

  • shevers December 7, 2008, 11:22 PM

    and fast enough to give someone whiplash.

  • Chris_B December 7, 2008, 11:50 PM

    OK the doilies I get, but is there something I should know about what looks like a folded in half kippa stuck in place with hair pins? Our temp lady rabbi is doing something that looks like this.

  • Captian Gefilta Fish December 9, 2008, 12:16 PM

    How about the guy who,s always complaining the economy is terrable and other negative comments about his financial state including how the guy at the used car dealership ripped him off. He’s usually the guy with the bald head with grey hair on the sides in his late 40s. Your like:”Dude, don’t u have enough life experiance to get it, we are always in a recession every company you work for will try to sucker you for all your worth and screw you out of as many benifits they legally( and if they can get away with it not legally)can. No one has money,and if they do they propbably worked darn hard to get it and certainly would not give it to an overweight bald headed man expriancing a mi-life crises. Get over it, if you need more money work for it.

    • Zvi Lampert January 26, 2010, 1:49 AM

      In a nutshell, the incessant yapper.

  • Bsamim Smoker December 10, 2008, 5:23 PM

    lets remember these are the “people a shul mush have” blog, please see “people a shul have but shouldn’t” blog

  • Just Having Fun! February 23, 2009, 12:25 PM

    Here’s the rest of the congregation:

    1. The Stinky Perfume Lady
    2. The Stinky Cologne Man
    3. The Candy Wrapper Crinkler
    4. The “I Just Can’t Help Myself From Gabbing During Leining” Ladies
    5. The “How About Dem Steelers? During Leining” Men
    6. The “I Don’t Have to Answer Omein After Mourner’s Kaddish” Guys
    7. The Kiddush Club Guys
    8. The Best Friend of the Custodian (has the market on band-aids and climate control)
    9. The Fashion Show Show-Stopper
    10. The “It Covers All Parts Even Though It’s Skin Tight” Lady
    11. The “Sings Louder and More Shrill-ly Than the Chazzan” Lady
    12. The “Frummie That Nobody Knows Shuckling By the East Wall- He Must Be Visiting or Somebody’s Son-In-Law” Guy
    13. The Shabbos Hat Lady (what creation is she going to wear this week?)
    14. The Parks Around the Corner Guy
    15. The “Knows All the Singles” Lady
    16. The “Single Guy Who Davens With A Tallis/Must Be A Yekke”
    17. The Oy-Oy Man (your congregation davens modern Hebrew and he sounds off like a Belzer)
    18. The Guy Who Elbows all the guys in front of him so he can kiss the Torah
    19. The Kid Who Nearly Falls Off The Balcony
    20. The Industrial Strength Tichel Lady (everyone else wears a shul-hat, doily, or goes au naturel)
    21. The Frummy BY Girls Who Daven With Faces into the Siddur Shuckling Once a Second (you can time them)
    22. The “I Can’t Hold My Water” Man/Lady
    23. The Fat Tushy Guy Who Takes Up 3 Seats
    24. The College Student in a Knitted Kippah and a Pony Tail
    25. The Mesivta Bochrim Who Can Barely Tuck in their Shirts and Only Own Athletic Shoes
    26. The Suit Plus Athletic Shoes Old Man
    27. The Suit Plus Athletic Shoes Bochur
    28. The “Israeli-Style” Guys at Shalo Sheudos who wear a Suit, and White Shirt, but leave the tie at home
    29. The Wheelchair Guy – everybody has to shake hands with him as they are going out instead of waiting to see him at kiddush and clog up the aisle
    30. The “May I Have Your Attention” Man – yells this at the kiddush so everyone can hear the rabbi make kiddush (tip of the hat to B.B., ob”m) but loudly enough so you can hear him in Cleveland

  • Sunshine ^.^ July 30, 2009, 10:56 PM

    HAHA!! very cute!! i loved the part about the gabbai making 5 mi sheberachs in 45 secs abt the olehs wifes and the pet 🙂 i also got a laugh at ari’s “the latecomer” great job!!

  • chevramaidel January 25, 2010, 5:45 PM

    “Just Having Fun” – I’ve davened in that shul a hundred times! #28, though, might be a visiting Lubav – neckties are the “misnagdishe gartel”, they separate the head from the heart!
    The “shusher” reminds me of the rebbele a”h of the local shtible, a sweet, edele old man. When the Torah was about to be read, he’d announce, “Sha! Moishe Rabbaine vet redn!” (Moshe Rabbenu is about to speak!)

  • chevramaidel January 25, 2010, 5:48 PM

    Oh, yes – did anyone mention the “Tznius Lady”? She polices the women’s section, reprimanding anyone whose skirt is a little too short or whose son’s hair is a little too long.

    • DrumIntellect January 25, 2010, 11:18 PM

      Is the “tznius lady” an asset to the shul?

  • David Sheril January 31, 2010, 11:44 PM

    Hey it’s nice to check in on my post a year or so after it was posted and to see any new comments. I have since switched shuls, but wouldn’t you know it most of the list is present in my new shul too!

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