Friday, October 10, 2008

Stop the Clock

I am a proud member of the United Federation of Teachers, the union representing New York City's public school teachers. The following scenario often plays out in labor negotiations. The union has a strict "no contract no work" policy, an agreement is in sight, nobody wants a strike and the deadline is a few mintues away. Both sides agree to "stop the clock" and keep talking. The next morning everybody wakes up to the news that a contract was reached and there will not be a strike.
Something similar happened at the Kingsway Jewish Center yesterday, Yom Kippur. Services were taking longer than expected. We had an hour or less for Ne'ilah. The rabbi led the services instead of the hazan, perhaps in an effort to finish before the fast ended at 7:11. It didn't work; when the "deadline" came we were deep into Selihot. What to do? We stopped the clock. If anybody was angry that the fast was over but Ne'ilah was not, nobody said anything. Few men got up and left. We were absorbed in davening to the extent that we weren't paying attention to our hunger, much like runners in the last mile of the New York City Marathon not noticing their fatigue for all the cheering. The final teki'ah gedolah sounded at about 7:30, followed by a spirited hand-clapping round of Leshanah Ha-ba'ah B'Yerushalayim, followed by Ma'ariv and only then did we go home. Of course, we don't know what kind of "contract" was reached. But we "went the extra mile" (sorry to borrow a metaphor from what Christians call the New Testament), asking Hashem to do the same for us.

May we all have a happy and healthy new year. May we see only good things for ourselves, for Israel and for the Jewish people. The next teki'ah gedolah that we hear will be sounded on the night of Yom Ha'atzma'ut; the end of Ma'ariv being modeled after the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It is also followed by joyous singing of Leshanah Ha-ba'ah B'Yerushalayim. This year, may the shofar be blown by Mashiah on the roof of the rebuilt Beit Hamikdash, televised live via satellite for all the world to see and hear.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Garnel Ironheart said...

Craziness can happen on both sides. One shul I like to avoid on YK makes sure that morning davening ends by 1:30 pm, no ifs ands or buts. Does that mean skipping half the Avodah and whipping through the rest? So what?
Another shul I used to like to avoid (and now live nowhere near) had a chazan who extended YK by at least ONE HOUR with his endless warbling.
Sounds like your shul has the right mix.

Fri Oct 10, 01:26:00 PM EDT  
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