French Israel

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Shavoua Tov
Happiness is being in a synagogue on Friday evening and hearing Enrico Macias tunes used as niggounim. "Lekha dodi" sung to the tune of "Toi Paris, tu m'as pris dans tes bras", for example.

The crowd there is mostly unorthodox. By that, I mean knit-kippah, and a variety of clothing. Some coloured shirts. Some suits in colours besides black. Very few hats. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different from the synagogue across the street, where the Borsalinos and Barbisios and Fersters are towering high: they are on the heads of serious guys who are either in yeshivah or kollel. There are some knit kippoth, but they are not the majority.

In mine, a rav gives a drashah [sermon]. The women, probably feeling like they are in a separate building, talk loudly. They are in a balcony which can be seen (and heard) clearly from below, save for a little bit of mesh cloth that shields them from prying eyes, except when the cloth is pulled aside. They pull it aside quite often between prayers. One of the men-in-charge in the synagogue hollers at them to keep the noise down. Even when the rav is speaking he does this.

In the synagogue across the street, there is the same balcony but a different crowd. Maybe there are fewer women. Or maybe there are just as many -- one cannot see through the mesh cloth as well. Anyway, they aren't talking as much. Neither are the men. Several rabbanim are in charge in this synagogue, not simply ba'alei battim (heads of household). Serious.

But there in the serious synagogue, their niggounim are practically nonexistent. They have a good, long drashah, but they skip reading Shir HaShirim (The "Song of Songs", or "Song of Solomon"), and they skip most of Kabbalath Shabbath. "Lekha Dodi" is dispensed with in quick order with niggoun consisting of one phrase, repeated 40 times (literally -- I just counted).

I have attended other heavy-black-hat-populated synagogues in other communities, and the same niggoun is used there as well. And the same readings are skipped. It's as if it is part of their union contract. Serious synagogue: more black, more rabbanim, but a quick tefillah.

Yet both synagogues are for Sepharadim and Edoth HaMizra'h. I am not even comparing Ashkenazim and Sepharadim. Both synagogues are using the same siddourim, even.

In the synagogue I'm attending, the man leading prayers for Arvith is a wonderful 'hazzan, a cantor who sings kaddish to another Enrio Macias tune, "Adieu mon pays". He's wearing a white shirt, untucked, and grey slacks. A white knit kippah, certainly not a hat. Many of the men don't know to stand up (this is the one kaddish in the week for which we stand up). Okay, I'll say it: amei ha-arets. Traditionalists.

Raou banim et gevuratho is also sung faboulously. The crowd gets into it, as with the other prayers.

And they do it all, from "Shir HaShirim" to "Lekhu Nerananah" to "Yigdal", singing all the way, enthusiastically. And that's where I choose to pray.
PinḼas Ivri 00:12


Post a Comment