Yom Kippur and Synagogue Etiquette, Or, Sorry For Judging Your Shoes

imagesAs we dial down to the last of the Days of Awe, we Jews look a little closer at our motives and mistakes. We examine our souls like we’re cleaning out the cupboards of chametz with a scrubby sponge and some heavy-duty spray cleaner (non-toxic and environmentally friendly, of course.)

I haven’t had many moments in this week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to reflect on my sins, but I did a little time in the garden yesterday, going over the past year as I weeded the okra.

Here’s what I have come up with so far: I am judgmental bitch.

For reals. I like to think I’m a tolerant, peace-loving earth mother who welcomes everyone into my muumuu of organic cooking and DIY spirituality, but I have critical streak as wide as RuPaul’s bald spot. It’s mostly reserved for hypocritical morons who try to impose their morality on women’s bodies, but I realized while I was picking bugs off the squash that I am totally guilty of turning my Stink Eye on my own people.

I am talking about Synagogue Etiquette. I have developed a certain idea about how you show up to Temple, and I spent a nice chunk of last Thursday’s service eyeballing people who IMHO were not observing the basic threshold of decent behavior and/or attire.

Yes, I should have been focused on the liturgy or at least sounding out the Avinu Malkaynu without the transliteration. But instead I started obsessing over the following choices made by my fellow congregants, keeping up a rude inner dialogue:

Denim. People, it’s a house of worship. Find your way to the back of your closet and extract something other than what you wore to the Sand Gnats game last night.

Sequins. Unless you are under 8 years old or over 80, you look like you’re going clubbing with Lady Gaga. At no point during the service will the black lights come on and rabbi bust out with turntables on the bima.

Flip-flops. No matter how much modern culture devolves, my feelings on this will never change: They’re shower shoes and don’t belong in public. Let alone in the same sanctuary with the fabulous 95 year-old balabusta rocking the sequins.

Cell phones. Seriously, you need to be told? Totally busted the guy behind me checking the Yahoo news scroll during the Amidah. WTF? And btw, Torah trumps football scores (yes, even if Georgia is playing, El Yenta Man!)

Chit Chat. Maybe you’re not riveted by the rabbi’s sermon, but some of us are trying to pray, or like, think about shit. I’m not gonna take an ad out in the paper or anything, but SHHHH. Also, the Talmud says God will strike you dead. Or worse.

See? I’m a terrible person.

As much as we’re supposed to ask God for forgiveness on Yom Kippur, we’re also supposed to make peace with our fellow humans in order to be written into the Book of Life for another year.

So I’ll make a deal with you, fellow Jews. Maybe y’all could forgive me for judging you and maybe you’d consider not wearing stupid stuff and talking in shul and we can all have a blessed Holy day and an easy fast.

But we’re all human, so no guarantees, right?

‘Cause it might look like I’m sitting there davening along with the V’Havta but I’m probably just whispering “Why does that assh*ole keep putting his feet on the back of the pew?”

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Yom Kippur and Synagogue Etiquette, Or, Sorry For Judging Your Shoes

  1. Because you’re sitting in pews. Pews are for church, not for Jews. This is the dilemma of the so-called ‘sub-Orthodox’. We had it in our Conservative Movement synagogue when I was a kid. High holiday time was the time to feel Jewish, mostly by having the chance to hang out with other Yidden in a Jewish place. Lots of what went on had nothing to do with the ‘Holidays’, nor with Judaism for that matter, and forget about prayer – most had no idea what was going on during the service. Nu? It’s just a social event, so enjoy!

  2. “At no point during the service will the black lights come on and rabbi bust out with turntables on the bima.”

    Seriously? Your shul is not as fun as mine, then…

    Unfortunately, this whole post makes way too much sense to me. You simply need to get yourself an embroidered tallis that says “if you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”

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