12 October 2010

Crowd surfing optional

This year we went to synagogue for Simchat Torah. I'd never been to this service before, but the class of new Hebrew school students, of which Gabriel is a member, were being consecrated. While I'm not against the idea of going to synagogue, I do find it fairly boring, but on Simchat Torah I had the best time I've ever had in a synagogue.

It was partly due to the joyous nature of the holiday, which celebrates the end of the annual cycle of Torah reading, and culminates in a ceremony where the congregation forms a circle around the children and unfurls the entire Torah scroll. I'd always thought touching the Torah was verboten, but apparently not, at least if this is to be believed.

There was a relatively short service accompanied by a klezmer duo, and many families with small children were present, signifying a behavioral bar set low enough for limbo. During call and response readings, Sacha repeated things, fortissimo, half a beat after the congregation. This included lot of enthusiastic oh yeahs! amens! and much indecipherable ad-libbing. The service culminates with singing and dancing, during which Gabriel and Sacha fought over playing the bongos, and Gabriel spun wildly like a dervish.

Speaking in tongues and ecstatic dancing; perhaps the key to enjoying synagogue is to behave like you're at a tent revival or a rock concert, and let your freak flag fly. Next year's highlights will include pogoing, and slam dancing.

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