First, two mazel tovs are in order:
Mazel Tov to my Sabbah on his 82nd birthday, which the family is celebrating in Palm Springs this weekend
Mazel tov to my uncle on his sitcom getting picked up by ABC. I'll update once I have more information. All I know is that he is going to be starring in a sitcom called "In Case of Emergency".
" According to Variety, ABC has given a six-episode series commitment to In Case of Emergency, a half-hour comedy from Emile Levisetti and scribe Howard Morris. Beyond the episodic order, the network has picked up an additional 12 scripts for the series.
The deal for the show comes after an intense bidding war between ABC and NBC.
In Case of Emergency revolves around a group of friends who come together after a crisis and realize their lives didn't turn out as planned. Show's title was inspired by the doctor's office form in which you're asked to provide emergency contact information. Set in West L.A., show centers on four thirtysomething friends, one of whom is reunited with the other three in the pilot."
This having been said, now to the nitty gritty. I went to the Great Synaogue this shabbos. It was great (yes, I beat a number of people I've already talked to with the joke. Not funny). Anyway, the service was beautiful. I haven't been to a service with a choir for quite some time. It was also very different, as I am quite used to an egalitarian four section choir, while this was just basses and tenors. According to the music I own of Naftali Hershtik's, there are definitely higher voices in his High Holiday stuff, which I believe is young boys playing alto and soprano. Speaking of high voices, Chazzan (Cantor) Hershtik did some amazing falsetto. I miss this kind of service. Also in attendence was the conductor of the choir, Chazzan Eli Jaffe, from whom I learned how to lead High Holiday Services. He didn't look like I expected him to look, and just to confirm it was him I just google imaged him. Yep. That's him. I owe a lot to this man whom I have never met as now I know how to lead any and all high holiday services and can spice up most other services as well.
So as I mentioned it was a special shabbat and the shabbat before the new lunar month, as such the Birkat HaChodesh, the prayer for the upcoming month, was chanted in a high holiday melody befitting the special additions to the Amidah. The latter did not happen (which would have made services much longer) but Chazzan Hershtik did it anyway. It's just like how I learned it from the Eli Jaffe CDs. Becauseh of these CDs I have made a different melody for each month should I lead musaf on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh.
Another remark on the Synagogue. Besides it being Great (ha ha, very funny...), it is absolutely beautiful. The stained glass, which I only saw in shades of gray last night was beautiful as the sun rose in the east (we were in the perfect direction, due west from the Old City and therefore the synagogue faces east (well, like it does all over America) and got the sunrise. Actually Mr. Sun didn't come out today, and instead there was overcast humidity and a light rain. On friday we had 70F and sun. 23F in New York, eh? That's gotta hurt. Anyway, the stained glass (which can be seen at this link) was filled with names and letters and symbols that I could only partially make out on Friday night. I don't know if anyone noticed that the bottom two sefirot, the male one was represented as red, the female as green. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, eh?
Also, the Ark was HUGE. It was not to the sky like VBS's, but it had at least 18 Torahs (real ones, unlike the shells on the top at VBS) crammed into it.
My one critique of the great synagogue is that the accoustics were not so good. From the Torah podium they worked well, but from where the cantor stood it was hard to hear.
What I've learned this Shabbat: mint soda is weird and tastes like the worst jelly bean flavor ever, tutti-frutti. I do not recommend buying mint soda (or eating a pink jelly belly speckled with red and green) . Avoid at all costs.
Alright, that's it, kiddies. Gotta motor. Shavuah Tov.