If I ran a shul:
1. There would be an assistant rabbi. I think every shul should have an assistant rabbi. First of all, you need succession planning. People die. Second of all, we all want perfect rabbis, and are always disappointed that our rabbis are not perfect with the elderly and the youth, they are not worldly and saintly, they are not Torah scholars and wonderful fundraisers, etc. When you have an assistant, you have a fighting chance of getting one rabbi who might be great with the seniors, moneybags, and civil leaders, while the assistant rabbi might be a better speaker, great with couples therapy, and might even know how to learn a little bit. Also when you get pissed off at one rabbi you don’t have to leave the shul and daven at home or at the local Chabad.
2. Friday night davenning happens in a house. No one wants to go to shul anyway, so why do it. We’ll meet in someone’s home and daven in the living room like real ba’alabatim. We’ll hang out a little bit too.
3. Shabbos morning starts at 9:25 am. The old farts can show up an hour early to pretend they are learning daf yomi if they want to, but I won’t be there. 9:25 is the best time to start. 10:00 is way too late. 9:00 is too early. I want to leave my house at 9:05 and be there on time. If we can’t get a minyan at 9:25, we’ll pay men to show up. I hate waiting for the 10th guy to stroll in.
4. The shul will have tables. Tables are a must. The tables will have stacks of books on them — maybe magazines and some fidget toys. No red chairs, no blue chairs. They will be grey or black, and will be soft — with armrests. And a little foot rest under the tables too.
5. There will be a mechitza. I can’t stand sitting next to women when I daven — their hips always bump me. I want to look at them shuckle. So it will be one of those glass mechitzas with a one way view — where we can see them, but they can’t see us. We’re ugly and dorky anyway, why would they want to look at us? Also the men would be seated higher than the women — so we could get a glimpse of some downblouse action. When you catch a bit of a down-peek, you know there’s a God. In fact, I think there should be a bracha for a good looksy down there. It’s a religious experience.
6. The ba’al tefilah will know how to pronounce the damn words right. I don’t care if they sing or not, but for God’s sake learn how to read Hebrew if you are going to get up there and daven. And stop with that nasal sound. I don’t need to hear Fran Drescher impressions.
7. No mi sheberachs for a bazzilion sick people we don’t know about or care about. I’m sick of prayers for the sick. We’ll lain quickly, and someone will explain what the laining is about — like it used to be in the talmudic times.
8. The Rabbis speech will take 10 minutes — max. It will not be mindless. It will not be about national politics or give me some crappy mussar about how we talk too much in shul. It will be some uplifting lesson, or maybe it will make fun of some freaky new takana. No way will we allow anyone to tell us about which food product is “not really recommended anymore” because of some vague questionable kashrus issue that is a really code for “they didn’t pay the mafia bill.” Then the speech will be followed by a 10 minute rebuttal speech. I can’t stand that rabbis get to speak without anyone disagreeing with them right then and there. Disagreement is what makes Judaism great. You can’t spit on a page of gemara without finding a disagreement, so why not have one in shul, every week — by design. Point and Counterpoint. You decide which opinion you prefer.
9. We’ll have a kiddush, but we’ll call it the Happy Ending. More on this in a future post.
10. No membership dues. But if you like the shul, you have to get Heshy and Chaya a wedding gift from their wedding registry. Heck, you read this blog, you enjoy it, you comment on it — so don’t be a chazer and get the couple a damn gift as a way to say thank you. You can be the jerk who gets them one washcloth or the stupid lemon grater. Or you can shell out about as much as a tank of gas and get something menchlich.
So will you be a member?
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