Guide to shul jobs


To me Hagba is the shul pimp job. Hagba is by far the coolest job, but could also be potentially dangerous so you have to strategize when you actually get it. Luckily for me I have never done Hagba, and whenever I have been offered it, it was during a double header parsha weekend and that is not the time to be busting out a Hagba. I just don’t want to sit with the scroll on my lap for an extra parsha, I also find that whenever I hold the torah, except during simchas torah- the worst thoughts enter my head. It reminds me of musaf during Yom Kippur- arguably the holiest prayer of the year and I am shuckeling and suddenly the worst stuff one could think about is pooping in streams into my brain.

But Hagba could also show how cool you are. You have those guys that bust out the shaky “Steve Urquel” hagba, but then you have the smooth flowing guys who even exhibit finesse when slickly donning the tallis before lifting the scroll. Then suddenly the scroll is up there and everyone is pointing with their pinkies like a bunch of Tokyo residents at Godzilla and the scroll is high aloft, stretched beyond the 5 column norm and the man doing it is The Hagba Pimp. Of course all is lost upon sitting down and a nervous older single guy in corduroy suit jacket with stretch waist khakis nervously tries to figure out the bra-gartel clasp during gelila, but for a moment the shul was elavted to pimpdom.


It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. I have heard that it’s a lofty position so many times I feel like I am an older single getting pissed every time they say Im Yirtza Hashem by you. Every time the Rabbi/Gabbi- guy who makes you feel good about donning the torah with those noisy silver crowns thing says this- I want to say back at him- that I have never seen anyone of loft shul status, such as the guy with the loud Hatzolah walkie talkie getting gelila. When is the last time you saw a Ruv get gelila. I guess the lofty position of confusing which side the gartel clasp is on must be reserved for those with lack of motor skills who will give those souls who feel bad about not being invited to the Kiddush club a little better.

Of course its even worse when the Hagba guy is excepting congratulations and yasher koachs from all the Bimah residents that he forgets to roll up his part of the scroll and you have this weird looking scroll that is half rolled and he seems to be spaced out to listen to this nerdy gelila guy. Have you ever realized how disconnected hagba and gelila guys are? It’s a different society, gelila guys get these limp fish- “nice job reject” yasher koachs, while mister cool guy with a blue tooth in his ear and a loud hatzolah walkie talkie is getting real handshakes and yasher koachs- for his extreme pimping abilities.

C;ick for my video on gelila


In my mind Pesicha can be a great job and a crappy job and this all depends on how big the shul is and where the women’s section is. If you get the pesicha at the taking out of the torah and it’s the type of shul that seeks donations- you may not have to do it at the bringing the torah back time- that works for me. I just hate having to make sure I am in shul when they put the torah back, since this is usually the time of escape to the bulliten board for the Rabbis speech.

Of course if you like people watching, standing up there waiting for all the singing to come to a halt and for you to pick the red or the blue pill… ahem torah, you can gaze out onto the mass sea of penguins and hopefully women. It kind of puts you on a pesicha so when you see someone at the Kiddush who strikes your fancy you can walk up to her and say “hey baby did you see I got pesicha?” It works every time, women just love a man who can open curtains for them.

Yizkor Reader:

The Yizkor names reader is a very lucrative job, not only can they skim off the yizkor proceedings they can obstruct the whole flow of davening by doing it extra fast and not allowing for those who love the brief respite from shul to really get a good rest in. Unfortunately these guys usually don’t take advantage of their job and take forever, and make me do the Yizkor Walk of Shame- which is when I- always the youngest Yizkor reader- leave the shul for a break outside.

Duchaners (birchas kohanim)

I can only imagine a new Yeshiva World News article similar to the one about the Christian guy infiltrating the Lakewood community. Man posing as Kohen infiltrates birchas kohanim ceremony and discovered after someone peeked (your not supposed to look- but I always do In fact not only do I look- I also get up early during all the Yom Kippur bowings and look at everyone’s butts poking in the air with a chuckle- because its damned funny) and saw that there was a Kohen just standing up there and laughing his ass off because he pulled off this stunt. They should take ID’s, I don’t want a Kohen imposter pulling a fast one on me.

Kohanim have a few minutes of supreme control over the congregants. I have noticed that no one ever says yasher koach to them- but I am sure they are appreciative, after all everyone likes blessings, except for those times times when you keep sneezing in class and people keep saying Bless You- its enough already ok.

I personally would love to pull off some Capitan Spock moves barefoot in shul. First of all they get to look at everyone while- those people cant look at them- its almost like those Zack Morris time outs (who remembers those) Then you get to have your hands washed- how cool is that, and then you get to take 10% of our food- shoot its almost as good as eating rice on pesach.

Aliyah Caller Upper:

I must admit whenever I get one of those thick plastic aliyah cards that must be made from recycled Plexiglas from banks- I feel like the man. I feel cool for just a few minutes- hopefully more because I prefer shishi to shleeshi- just because it allows me to some prime Kiddush scouting time.

The aliyah caller upper guy- sometimes the gabbi, but usually someone cool who doesn’t come to the minyanim on the weekdays for some reason. He has the ultimate in power, he can get you euphoric or make you feel like a loser. Although in fancy shuls that give you the card for menial jobs like grabbing the besumin case from under the shtender in the Rabbis study or chaining the torah to the bimah- even give some sort of status to those jobs.

The aliyah guy has supreme power and probably the best job in shul, because he gets to use leverage to get invited to the Kiddush club and he is usually the first guy sneezing when a box of snuff is passed around.

Torah Holders:
Torah holding can be great, if your tipsy and dancing around to favorites like Aneinu, but during hoshanos with a bunch of sweaty, smelly morning breath men by accidentally poking you with their lulavs (insert sexual joke here) it just sucks. It also sucks if the bimah is too high to rest your tired arms and you have to just hang around, kind of feeling left out in the see of lulavs0 with your bulky scroll.

During pesicha its great if they happen to be using your torah, but if you got stuck with the second torah God help you.

Hand Signal Guy:

I always felt that the hand signal guys reminded me of those dudes on the runway with glow sticks. I also always wondered if there was universal system of signals for torah readers or a thumb dip could mean one thing to one torah reader and to an Australian Torah reader it meant something way different. The hand signal guys are just super cool, enough said.

Anim Zemiros Doers:

When the folks doing anim zemiros are in their teens you can tell the shul is dying. When the guy doing anim zemiros is 80, you got to wonder what happened to the shul. I never even knew what anim zemiros was until I was in college. As a youth I never lasted in shul longer then the taking out of the torah and in yeshiva no one sang anim zemiros, actually nothing was sang at all- so I never knew until I got out into the real world. I find that many modern orthodox shul utilize anim zemiros as a way to end after 12, because in order to stay within modern orthodoxy a shul must after 12, it’s a rule, at least where I am from.

Kiddush Bouncers:

Usually hired by the caterer or by some unruly parents that feel it is their job to discipline all other kids like they discipline their own- the kids of these usually cranky middle aged parents usually grow up to be shmucks. Anyway you have these irate parents screaming at you for merely looking at the ice cream scoop shaped mounds of 3 week old tuna. Of course you have the official Kiddush bouncers of the shul. In most shuls it’s the folks who are setting up the Kiddush, they will leave the door open and then boom they say “Ok I have had enough” and suddenly the door is locked by a large wielding a spatula dripping with pieces of kugel and oil. You are either locked in or out, in is good- because once locked in- its almost as if permission has been granted for you to help yourself to some orange soda and sugar kichel.