This past Shabbat, Rafi and I walked the brisk distance to the GREAT Synagogue (the only link with a decent picture on Google) in the center of Jerusalem. We have a friend in the מקהלה / makelah / choir, and we wanted to see him in action. Here is what happened in our GREAT Shabbat experience.
1. The balcony was WARM. This was GREATly increased by the hot air (and there is plenty coming from the cantor and the choir, except for Dan, who is GREAT), floating to the GREAT balcony above the GREAT men's floor.
2. Bar Mitzvah: A kid had his Bar Mitzvah, and his various female relatives pelted the kid with GREAT candy from the balcony, after his Torah reading in the mid-room Torah-reading בימה / bimah / stage. Hearing hard candy hit marble and lightbulbs? You guessed it: GREAT!
3. The Bar Mitzvah kid's little brother was also with his candy-throwing relatives, which gave him a great point of view from which to see his dad and brother in action. He called out, in a GREAT, high-pitched baby voice, quite often during the service: "Abba! Abba! Abba! (Dad!)" Pretty much the entire service. He thinks his dad is GREAT!
4. Apparently, one of the Gabbaiim (the people, or men in an Orthodox shul, who facilitate the service participants, Torah readers, etc.), whenever he heard a kid in the balcony (like the one in #3), he'd put on a not-so-GREAT face, point his finger at the balcony, and made a motion, similar to "get that stupid child out of my opera." (Because going to the GREAT Synagogue is like going to an opera performance.) Rafi is my source for this. I had a great view of the whole building, but not such a close-up of the activity around the בימה / bimah / stage.
5. Cantor. Rafi seems to think that the GREAT Synagogue is the cantorial acme of the universe. But really, the cantor and the choir made the whole experience not unlike my home shul, Temple Beth Am in Margate, FL, in the days of our old cantor. If I hadn't been in a balcony and absolutely stewing in the heat, I could've closed my eyes and imagined myself at a Temple Beth Am GREAT choir Shabbat, circa 1997.
6. Choir. All jokes aside, Dan and the rest were...oh, fine...GREAT!
7. Kiddush. After shul, there's a GREAT kiddush with cholent, although I stuck to Diet Coke and cake. I had a 20-second interaction with a frum (religious) guy, who seemed to be trying to get around me to get cake. He started "flirting" with me (just barely). It can be intuited from this interaction that he flirted with me because I wasn't wearing a hat (which marks me with the scarlet "S" for "Single."). Rafi found this particularly GREAT.
After the kiddush, we walked to the King Solomon Hotel to have lunch with the Davidson trip group (not as GREAT as last year's trip, but pretty GREAT all the same.). We played Taboo in the lobby until lunch. Funny Taboo moments ensued: Rafi didn't get the cue words I used for "foxy" and I got angry when he called me a "poodle" instead. Rafi thinks the word "ring" is an onomatopoeia. British Taboo cards have words like "Bogey" on them. Also, my professor and his wife seemed to enjoy appearances of my dirty mind that was so popular on last year's trip. After Taboo, we had lunch, I spoke with my Assistant Dean for about an hour about Hebrew at JTS, and then Rafi and I ended up hanging around with friends there for the rest of the afternoon, until Shabbat was over.
Rafi and I took a short, GREAT walk to the Inbal hotel (about 5 minutes from one hotel to the other), to attend a Rabbinical School Admissions Deans' Oneg. I like being a significant other -- the perk of dessert at the Inbal being a GREAT one. I even get to go to the Rebbitzins' book club. (Tonight. Suite Francaise. Be there or be "S" for "Single".)
All in all, it was a really GREAT Shabbat.