Disorientation in shul

I went to a synagogue in San Francisco on Shabbos and Sunday, and I was asked to lead davening on Sunday. I did not refuse the customary three times, because I am greedy for the amud. (Good thing I found that imperfection to work on, as we start the long slow slide, or hard sweaty climb, into fast-n-forgiveness. Because I'm lacking any others. Yes that's right.)

Leading davening for the first time somewhere is disorienting. You know someone thinks you're going too fast. Someone else wonders why aren't you songful & joyous & Carlebachelicious; a third grumbles why you don't get the hell on with it already, some people work for a living.

And then, of course, it's disorienting for them. It's Bob's turn today! Fie on thee, you usurper, why are you displacing Bob?

I find this disorientation a useful microcosm of liberal Judaism. You're never quite sure. You don't have the fundamentalist's confidence that God has blessed your every move. You have the narrow ells of the religious life and the wide anomie-spaces of modernity. You're always going too fast and too slow, always displacing someone.

But then there's hot tea afterwards (hot tea is welcome in San Francisco, even in July) and someone brought biscotti. Good morning!


  1. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Disorienting for me would be tea and biscotti at minyan rather than coffee and bagels.