Monday, July 16, 2012


Survived my long Torah reading.  So did the other seven participants, all volunteers who capably got us through all parts of shabbat morning from Psuekei D'Zimrah to the concluding prayers.  I much prefer it that way as an individual experience, which is the usual occurrence of most Orthodox congregations and by default an increasing number of Conservative and Transdenominational ones whose declining revenues have caused them to eliminate the cantorial position.  To do this, we had to take out most of our A-team, which means this is not sustainable weekly.  My guess is that we could more than get by but actually thrive with only a Torah reader and a High Holiday cantor, as the capability exists within the congregation to conduct all other services.  We would need about a half dozen guys for shacharit, which we have, about four for Musaf, where we are cutting it a little close, maybe eight experienced Haftarah readers which we have.  In this day of Virtual Cantor, we could have an experienced person learn Tal and Geshem and pretty much anything else that occurs infrequently if given sufficient notice.

There are professional sports and there are pick-up games.  Both have their place.  Both generate different expectations from the people who attend.  Both have the capacity to engage the people who attend, though in different ways.  People watching the Phillies or the Olympics admire virtuosity.  People playing AKSE softball want the ball to come to them once in a while.

I do not have a good sense of what the occupants of the Berlin Chapel or Gewirtz Sanctuary expect of their experience on a shabbat morning and whether those expectations get fulfilled.  It would be hard to ascertain something like that accurately, though not impossible.  Good project for the Membership Committee or Ritual Committee, as it impacts on AKSE's most important weekly assembly.  My vote goes for grass roots.

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