I can not believe how spoiled I was when it came to shlichai tzibur. I might hate "chazzonous" but boy oh boy so I miss having someone who was plesant to listen to.
The person (well, people) who davened yom kippur here sounded like they had heard it before, but never actually practiced doing it themselves. The chose decent enough tunes (although I did miss some of my favourites) but they seemed to have no clue how hey were supposed to fit the words into the melodies. (Hey uncle Robert- feel like visiting next year to give a few lessons?)
They were also so quiet half of the time that most of the women had no idea where we were. Ok, we had some sort of vague idea which page we were on, but on the whole it was incredibly difficult to try to figure out responsive readings.
Speaking of responsive readings, and parts that are done out loud- isn't the whole point to do them TOGETHER? I always thought that the tune for 13 midot (you know, Hashem, Hashem, kel rachum v'chaanun...) was because the idea was that when B'nei Yisrael said it all together in unison Hashem had to hear us. So how does everyone mumbling at different speeds work? Rather than a great pounding hammer of a voice we become a million little annoying mice trying to scratch our way into the palace gate.
I can not imagine it is nearly as intimidating (for lack of a better word).
On the other hand, I have to say that "L'shanah habah b'Yerushalayim habnuya" takes on a whole new meaning when you are living in what is considered to be a Jerusalem area city. You focus a lot more on the "rebuilt" portion of the sentence. It was actually kind of nice. Yes yes I had tears in my eyes but that should not shock anyone reading this blog by now! The real shocker would have been if I could have stayed dry-eyed!
There are a few things about the women's section that I find interesting. Firstly, and I suppose foremostly, it is empty. There is no baby sitting or childcare or junior minyan or anything else into which you can drop your children (not just at our shul, at anyone we have seen the the neighbourhood). Either children can sit with their parents, or they can't. And if they can't, someone needs to stay home with them. In Toronto this problem could have been solved with a non-Jewish babysitter, but here that is just not an option, Frankly, you would be hard pressed to find a shabbat-goy within at least 10km of here.
So if you are a mommy and your kid will not sit nicely in shul, you might buy a seat, but chances are you will not use it.
The other thing is that here most of the women do kneel right to the ground. I was taught in school it was not tzanuah for women to do so, and thus we don't. But I was one of maybe 5 women who did not. I just looks to foriegn to me. I see kneeling like that, and I think "Allah hoo Akbar" not "Hashem hu Hamelech". I dunno. Maybe it is just me, but I just can not see myself ever going along with this minhag. I told Channah she could if she wanted to (of course she did not want to as that is just the sort of grumpy little person she was being after being forced to sit in shul for a couple of hours- not that I blame her).
Last night we got the schach up on our succah. This is the first year put up our succah with no help from friends or family. It was an engineering challenge. The old tenants left us one of those steel and coregated plastic snap together succahs- with no instructions. We figured it out and mananged to get up the schach and make it stay, and tie it down. We are actually pretty proud of ourselves. We took what was an 8x8 succah, left one wall open (the wall at the front of our mirpeset so from about chest high you have a huge "picture window" overlooking the hills around Beit Shemesh) and turned it into a 12x12.
I think we should have enough room for everyone coming first day lunch. Don't know if we'll have enough table space, chairs or food- but we will have enough space!
It was actually really neat because most of the building was out on their balconies putting up their succahs. I wanted to snap a picture but it just did nto happen. Everyone was calling back and forth and making jokes between dropping things and trying to figure out what they were doing. Kids were up well into the night and could be heard whacking each other with random building implements. No one was seriously hurt and a modicum of fun was had by most.