Creating Community

February 1, 2000
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Joan Leegant

Ladies & Gentlemen: Once again, as in random Purims past, we beg your indulgence as we interrupt the evening festivities. We are the consulting firm of Sturm & Drung and have once again been commissioned by this worship group to conduct vital institutional research. We will be reading to you this evening from a brief questionnaire, which will be sent out in hard copy just as soon as we get hold of some clean envelopes.

Section One: Who shall daven on the high holidays?

1.I am extremely concerned about gender equity when it comes to the High Holiday daveners. Therefore, I prefer that the person davening Kol Nidre be:

a. a male
b. a female
c. neither of the above

2. Evidence of my chazan’s piety is important to me. Thus, the following shoes are acceptable for my choice of chazan on Yom Kippur: a. Those little flat canvas things with straps, provided they are not made in China, India, or Pakistan, where child labor is used for soccer balls
b. Reebok, Adidas, or New Balance running shoes, provided they have only a kazayit of leather on them and the kazayit is facing the aron
c. Those pastel-colored espadrilles your mother gave you in Florida when her corns got too big for her to be able to wear them anymore

3. The most important quality for the neilah davener is:

a.The ability to convey a sense of urgency
b.The ability to stay focused
c. The ability to stand up
4.The best way to choose the chazanim/chazanot for the holidays is:

a.By secret ballot, which shall be preceded by primaries, the voters divided into districts according to neighborhoods, zip codes, and area codes
b.By hiring a talent scout, like the guy who discovered Stevie Wonder, and have them discreetly sit in on Shavuot, looking for talent
c. By public auction, with the choice of davener going to the highest bidder

Let’s address rules for celebrations in shul. We all know there are rules. Some of us even know what the rules are. But do we know what the consequences are for breaking them? No. That’s because there are no consequences. Once and for all, let us resolve this issue swiftly and without pity:

1.Overcrowding. For the sin of overcrowding caused by inviting too many guests to your simchah, the penalty shall be:

a.Sitting for the rest of the year on the 1,000,000 BTU radiator against the back wall
b.Standing for the rest of the year by the light switches against the wall, worrying that you will turn them on or off if you should accidentally breathe
c.Standing in the 4 x 6 hermetically sealed alcove off the hall for the rest of the year inhaling the hormones emanating from the 12- to 14-year-old boys who congregate there

2. Invitations. For the sin of failing to invite everyone in the community to your simchah, the penalty shall be:

a.Personally licking envelopes for the next 10 organizational mailings
b.Writing on the blackboard 100 times “Everyone’s invited, everyone’s invited, everyone’s invited.”
c.Apologizing for your ways on our E-letter and asking for a discussion of the matter online

We’re interested in updating our demographic profile of the community. Please answer the following, based on your ancestral history.

1. For the Yom Kippur break-fast, our Ashkenazi family adheres to the following tradition:

a. The Litvak tradition, which features a sturdy cheese kugel good for all hours of the day
b. The Galitziana tradition, which serves kugel with enough sugar and candied cherries to induce diabetic shock
c. The Poultrynitz tradition, which slips boiled chicken wings into the noodles, thereby accounting for the wholesale disappearance of its cuisine

2. On the other hand, for our (classier) break-fast, our Sephardi family sticks to the following:

a. The Moroccan tradition, which features pine nuts and sultanas folded into a delicate rice-filled pastry that has only the good, or trans-fatty acids
b. The Yemenite tradition, which serves an equally healthy pilaf containing orange peel, coriander, a hint of rose-blossom honey, and all nine hundred spices mentioned in the Song of Songs
c. The remote Poultrysfard tradition, which buries chicken pieces under mounds of rice, hoping nobody notices

3. Lastly, for those of us in this country too long to know which end is up in terms of ancestry, our Yom Kippur break-fast follows this culinary tradition:

a.The Maine Yankee, serving up blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, and blueberry tea, with lobster on the side
b.The California Lite, presenting arrugala salad, no dressing, bagel halves with all the breading pulled out, 1/32 of an ounce of imported brie per person, and white wine in obscenely tall glasses
c.The Kentucky Fried, featuring robust chicken parts proud at last to be out of the closet, arriving complete with cardboard buckets and three sides, with a gallon of Jolt Cola thrown in for every twenty-five pieces of bird

Our community uses electronic mail for informal and formal communications. But, deciding who reads which email communications is a family matter. To help with these decisions, we propose the following rating system to be attached to each email:

1. All emails concerning lost tallis bags, your mother-in-law’s apartment for rent in Florida, and meetings of the eruv committee: Rated PB–for “Profoundly Boring.”
2. All emails concerning volunteering, opportunities to engage in social action and justice work, and all possible forms of adult education: Rated MBG: Moderately Boring with a high Guilt factor.
3.Personal assaults, however veiled and indirect, aimed at shoe size, toothpaste preference, or any other personal matter, including whether or not you believe in God: Rated NPN–Nis pasnisht. The consequence for this sin shall be a committee of technical nerds coming to your house under cover of night and pulling all of your plugs.

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