Once in a while I get pissed off enough to write about something and I’m kind of pissed at the moment. I am sure I have brought up what I am about to rant about before, but you people just don’t listen. Countless times I have davened for your sake and have asked ribono shel olam to send shuls a good chazzan, one that knew how to please his audience and time and time again, they disappoint with their lame ass lecha dodi tunes.
Trust me, I don’t have any high expectations when it comes to kabalas shabbos chazzanus at my local orthodox synagogue, there aren’t any Hefgot’s in the Bay Area and if there – we may have to question the validity of their sex, since half the folks around here who have the strength to sing, may not be who they say they are (in high school we used to make fun when shweky would sing at melava malka’s that he had no balls, but it wasn’t really meant to be taken literally like in the Bay) Either way, I don’t expect some chazzanus cruise in my local shul when I hop in for Friday night prayers, but what I do expect is a normal tune.
It seems that in the yeshiva system, the shuffle has gone way beyond scraping up the bottom of your shoes while walking down the street with your head facing down in a Kelm-esque move to not get distracted. I have witnessed several lecha dodi’s in the area that were sung like drunken sailor tunes – with no direction from the chazzan and certianly no participation from the congregation.
Do you chazzans realize the veracity of the situation. Many of the people attending shul in this area, only do so on shabbos. They come to bask in the Lords glory and to sing a little bit, but you have disgraced them with your obscure Camp Agudah Midwest tune that only you and your chevrah know. Now I understand that certian tunes, obscure that they may be, can be upbeat and learned easily. My compliments to Shaya G. who has taken Rabbi Goldberger’s obscure Baltimore lecha dodi tune and has brought it to San Francisco. You can imagine that I was shocked when it was sang the first time I was there – I was curious as to how it was transplanted with such ease – it is a complex tune – go ask any person from Baltimore who happens to daven at Goldbergers, but as obscure as it may be, it is a fun tune, one in which Kiruv rabbis can extend the lecha dodi service and dance around the bimah with their recent inductees into the baal teshuva hall of fame.
But most of the obscure tunes sung in these environs, are slow and boring. The types of tunes that they sing as yeshivish couples march to their deaths, ahem, wedding canopy. The types that have such passion when sung solo, yet when no one knows it, they suck the congregation into a doldrums that is tough to get out of, no matter how feverish they sing adon olam afterward.
I propose that shuls either have a gong (though that may be assur on shabbos) or a trapped door under the bimah with which they can get rid of the chazzan quickly, without publicly embarrassing him/her (women must do this too) when the shul muscle has to get up there to physically remove the obscure tune singing chazzan.