Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What happens on Yom Kippur.

Well, you don't eat and you spend a lot of time in shul. (This isn't everyone. Some people just do Kol Nidrei (the night before) and some people fast and don't go to shul, and some people don't eat but drink... but I do it pretty much by the letter of the law).

The liturgy is... difficult. Quite a lot of inherent power structure with the Creator, and a lot of begging. It's not up everyone's street. Some people get bored. Some people use it as a time for reflection and thought (me included).

I take a lot of books. This year, I took Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan, some Aryeh Kaplan and Adin Steinsaltz.

I chose to sit in the downstair's women section, which is more shteiblch, with tables and chairs, like a sudy hall, rather than seats or pews. Also, I took a few extra books from the shelves upstairs - some chassidische stories, some commentaries, and a bunch of litte booklets from the Jewish Responsibility Project, and put them out on the tables. I saw people reading them. It felt good.

And I did my security stint, although I felt a bit ropey by then.

The deal in my shul is that we have a paid security guard outside, and then inside we have a shul member-style person meeting-and-greeting, and checking people out on a profiling basis. Kinda like El Al security, but without the psychological training.

So, two stories.

One guy comes in, while J's on security. Jewish-looking (if there is such a thing, also arabic looking), trainers (good points), carrying a tallit and machzor (neutral points - you need them, but, technically, you shouldn't carry them). Thirtyish. He looks the part. He comes in, he nods at J, and then he says "shalom."


J and I (we had been chatting about Cheadle, what else) looked at each other.

"Do you think," J says to me, "that in the suicide bomber training camp, they get every little detail right, except they tell them to say shalom instead of gut yomtov?"

Later, S was on the door, and three twentyyish lads turn up. He waves them in, and when we ask him his thinking, he says,

"well, if you were a suicide bomber, you wouldn't bother getting a leather bound artscroll machzor with your initials in gold on the front. They look like typical shul-hoppers to me."

True. I mean, suicide bombers probably don't get barmitzvah presents. And also, you wouldn't want your gold-lettered evidence in the remains of the building.

As you can see, great fun had by all. But it's real. Things do happen, and you have to be kinda-careful.

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