Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A brief thought about things I miss

I want to write a well thought out post on the things I miss about being frum. Unfortunatley, I haven't had time to do so, so I'm just going to put down some brief thoughts for now.

I've been OTD over a year now and the newness of it is wearing off. After a few trief meals, dining out is still fun, but it isn't exciting. I'm not the new person at my new synagogue anymore. I'm starting to pick up on the tensions, grudges and political infighting that takes place at all synagogues.

There are definitely some things I miss about being frum. Shabbos for one - I like going to services at my new synagogue, but the question remains what to do with the rest of the day. I try to spend it in a "Shabbosdik" way, but it's hard when you're on your own. I also miss being able to walk to shul. It's hard for me to be spiritual when I'm stuck in traffic.

Serious learning is another thing I miss. It used to be I would go to a shiur and be the least knowledgable person in the room. Now I attend a Torah study group where every Hebrew word must also be said in English every single time or the same people complain. You would think that after awhile everyone would know that Yitzchok is Issac. I am impatient with people who say they didn't get a Hebrew education growing up. I've been hearing them say it for over a year now, which is more than enough time to learn to read Hebrew phonetically.

What I want to be able to do is take the best of both worlds - the open, welcoming, touchy-feelyness of my new Jewish Renewal synagogue and the dedicated commitment of my old frum shul. But since I can't have both, I will make do in the place where I feel welcome.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Being a Sheliach Tzibbur on the Yamim Noraim

As I am still a closet-OTD, I don't really have something to tell about my past frum side, but I can tell you something about my current frum side (the side that is losing it from reason at the moment)...

I love being a sheliach tzibbur.

Note that I don't like being called a chazan, because: a. They usually have better voices, and b. They tend to bore their audiences more than they inspire them. I love singing in general, but this is something that I know I am doing well and people are very appreciative not to have someone singing that has a bad voice or someone with a good voice that doesn't know how to stop. (Oh yes, and grammatically shaliach tzibbur is incorrect!)

In any case, there is a lot of preparation going into the davvening. Having lived in different parts of the world, I always have the opportunity to learn new melodies. Some are beautiful, others are more painful than having your ... cut off with a blunt knife. But at least now I call the shots and will be able to sing what I think is beatiful.

I have been singing the melodies to myself for weeks in the tram, bus, train, car an on the bike. Once I hold my machzor and mp3 player in front of me, I become oblivious to my environment and drift away...

Nussach is a beautiful thing. But I feel more and more distanced to the meaning of the actual text. This Rosh Hashanah on the 2nd evening when I chanted Yigdal (on a very beautiful melody), a pang of guilt went through me as I realized that the 13 Principles of Faith, so beautifully arranged in this poem, struck me as outlandish and absurd.

And so I am afraid of the day that I will be 'found out' or when I will come out of the closet and the powers-to-be will decide that it 'passt nisht' for a koifer to be their sheliach tzibbur. I guess that will be my sacrifice for a life of freedom.