June 26, 2011

Bat Mitzvah Day, cont.

Filed under: Hiking — geezerwriter @ 9:46 am
Sunday, 8:00 AM

As I was saying, before I was rudely interrupted by real life, the Shabbat service last night went well. The service is mostly sung, reminding me of the Roman Catholic high masses of my youth, and Lana led many of the segments. Another similarity with the old masses is that it is sung mostly in an unfamiliar language. You can follow along in a book (forgot to get the name – like a Catholic missal) as the rabbi calls out the page numbers. The text is written three ways on each pair of facing pages: in the original Hebrew script down the right side of the right-hand page, in Hebrew transliterated into the Roman alphabet on the left side of the that page and translated into English on the left.

Even with the shout-out on the page numbers, it can be hard to follow, since many prayers continue on for several pages and parts are often skipped and others are repeated with no indication in that text. And just for good measure, since the Hebrew script reads from right to left on the page, the pages are also reversed in the book. You can tell the goyim (gentiles) right away as we comically fumble around, turning the book this way and that and upside down and inside out.

I enjoy trying to follow the transliterated Hebrew, since I have a little experience with it from singing in choirs – and I just love languages for their own sake. But I think the best strategy for a goy who wants to share the experience is to just read as much of the English as you can. Many of the prayers are very beautiful and practical, and speak to universal human situations – I would even say that Judaism (the Reform branch, at least) is very humanistic, although that might get me into trouble.

While I spent a lot of time trying to hack the Hebrew, I did read a few of the English prayers and one of them really struck me as being outstandingly sensible and realistic. Those are qualities that most people seem to check at the door when they enter a place of worship. My very crude paraphrase: Don’t pray for things that humanity has no experience with and no chance of attaining. World Peace? Give me a break! Better you should just pray that more people would get angry and frustrated by war and poverty. It may be too much to hope they’ll actually DO anything, but angry is a good first step.

We enjoyed a nice spread of healthy foods after the service. Another humanistic touch is that, instead of having a separate social hall and kitchen complex as you’ll find in most churches, they have tables set up in the rear of the main room, right behind the rows of chairs. So you eat and yammer and gossip right in front of the Ark of the Covenant – right where God can see you!

Back in the Real World

That was a bad choice of words – it is very silly indeed to try to apply the word “real” to anything about Las Vegas. But after driving our charges back to the Bellagio we hopped onto I-15 for the two miles back to the Stratosphere (to avoid the Friday night traffic on The Strip) drove right into a linear parking lot. There had been an accident about 3 miles up the road and there were no exits before our destination, so we had to just sit there and crawl. It took about a half an hour to go those 2 miles.


I’m getting rather far behind on my blog posting, so that my titles no longer make any sense. And my spouse is getting itchy to get to The Wedding, already. No time for proofreading.

1 Comment »

  1. I was out all day long and got behind on my blog reading. By now (Monday morning) you are all on your way back to our fair city. Glad it went so well, though, and thanks for the pictures on Flickr!

    Comment by DJan — June 27, 2011 @ 6:12 am

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