Whenever someone would ask my father where we went to shul, he would always respond the same way- “never ask a west sider where they go to shul” implying there was no loyalty on the west side, and that choosing where you went to shul was based on many different attributes, including Rabbi, weather, distance, leg room, Kiddush club, booze availability, Speed or slowness of the davening, singing, what kind of reading material they had, seforim selection and loads of other conditions that one takes into when picking their shul. One who lives on the west side rarely goes to the same shul for weekday and shabbos davening- in fact shul hopping is a most common practice and something I grew up with. I really only hopped between several shuls being Carlebach, west side institutional synagogue (WSIS), ohev shalom, lincoln square and the forehand shteeble. Once in a while rumors of a massive Kiddush would float around and you could see an early exodus from shul by most anyone who wanted to attend, but Kiddush and shul hopping was accepted practice- although I am told in most places it is not.
I have of course taken my shul hopping practices to places where it is not generally accepted- in small towns there is a great loyalty to your shul- mostly for political reasons of course- but I was never one to get involved in politics, I just like to visit multiple shuls to meet multiple peoples. I can remember situations where people would ask- “hey you weren’t here for the whole davening- bet you just came for the Kiddush” of course I would answer yes- because where I’m from this is perfectly acceptable, but then again lots of things I grew up with were normal, such as women dancing with the Torah on simchas torah- which I have found out is not the general accepted practice, so maybe I’m just an outcast.
Flip to Shavuos, a time when shul hopping becomes a necessity. What if you want to hear a diverse array of shiurim and different Rabbis speak, etc? I had never even thought of this before someone mentioned on facebook that no one likes a shul hopper. I never thought of this before because for as long as I can remember I had spent my shavuos holidays in Rochester at the yeshiva there, and on the way back to my hosts would always stop at Beth Shalom to check out the food offerings, hop in on a shiur or chat with some old friends. Rarely did shul hopping come into play because- when you have a yeshiva- you really don’t need to shul hop.
This year I am spending the holiday in a place where shul hopping may become a necessity, I don’t have many friends in the area I am spending it in and the friends I do have aren’t of the learn all night types anyway. So I am going to have to shul hop- I’m kind of excited though for I will get to learn in a bunch of different places and get some diversity going on- oh and I get to sample the food of each individual shul- as long as they have some good cheesecake.