Thursday, October 06, 2005

Home For The Holiday

As is my annual tradition, I went home for Rosh Hashanah.  I grew up in a relatively small Conservative congregation.  It was much like an extended family.  I still feel like I am at home in the schul and I always enjoy seeing the ‘Adults’ from when I was growing up.

The schul, for most of my life, did not have a Chazzen.  We had one until around the time of my Bar Mitzvah, but he decided to retire and make aliyah.  I always missed him as he was a wonderful and very kind, gentle man who had survived torture by the Stalinist regime, before immigrating to the US.

Since his retirement we have been mostly with out a Chazzen, occasionally on the High Holy Days we would get a ‘Rent-A-Chazzen,’ but most of the time it would just be a member of the congregation with a good voice and the interest to do the majority of the ‘work’ for those Yom Tovim.  

I have always enjoyed hearing a Chazzen during the weekly Shabbat services.  It seems to add a pleasing measure to the services that I otherwise miss.  I really have never like a Chazzen on the High Yom Tovim because, well, they seem to feel a need to perform.

This year at my ‘home’ congregation they had a ‘Rent-a-Chazzen’ and he met with my usual expectation for the Holy Days.  Wife put that if she wanted to hear opera she would pay the ticket price.  I am not exceptionally enthusiastic about this situation as he was so slow, I have a feeling that the second days Mincha service may still be going on.  Another thing about this particular Chazzen that was annoying was that he was very hard to following in the Machzor, so hard that I eventually just put it down and ‘listened’ (I actually fell asleep for several minutes during the ‘concert’ until my wife woke me up because I began to snore.)  He also would get to a part of the davening that was ‘sing-a-long’ and would start with a tune that everyone knew, and then half way through would just veer off the established tune in to something else, or would decide with out warning to elongate a word.  (I actually left services early because of the frustration with him, and I wasn’t the only one.  Quite a few of the people who don’t normally leave early, did this time.)

I really wish these ‘actors’ would understand that they are not making the services very interesting for anyone but themselves, if even themselves.  I really want to go to services, daven, and do my teshuvah.  I want to enjoy the service for what it is supposed to be and not for the concert they seem to think it is.

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