Adventures in Davening.

14 02 2007

(So, I was going to post something complaining about relationships, but then I realized it was Valentines Day, and that’s just to pathetic. So I won’t, and instead I’ll post that later. Until then, I will send you here for your Valentines day fix. )

Some one came to my blog with this search term “the aliyah prayer phonetically”. I have no idea how that happened, since as far as I can remember, I have never actually used any of those words on my blog. Anyway, never let it be said that I’m not helpful, since here is not only the transliterated prayers before a Torah reading (I’m assuming that’s what they want, not a prayer about making Aliyah to Israel, although I suppose either is possible), but a whole transliterated siddur (prayer book)!  That said, here are my thoughts on transliteration.  It’s really useful to let you just dive in without knowing a lot of Hebrew, but it can really easily become a crutch.  Learning to read Hebrew is well within most people’s abilities (anyone who can read English should be able to learn it, even if it takes a bit of work), and it’s so nice to be able to pick up any siddur and follow along.  The best thing to do is to start learning to read Hebrew and then not allow yourself to use the transliteration anymore, since if you can use it, you will.  People are lazy (or at least I am).  If you want a good learning siddur, I recommend the Artscroll Interliner Translated Siddur.  It has the translation of all of the words right below them, which is great for when you’re starting to learn Hebrew, since you don’t have to search for the word you’re confused about in the big block of English text on the facing page.  Also, if you get the full size version the font is HUGE!!!  It’s gigantic, I tell you!  It’s like the font size used in children’s books, the ones with most of the action in pictures, and none of the sentences have more than 5 words.  I love it, so much easier when you’re just starting to read Hebrew, and all the letters look square, and identical.  (Artscroll also has a transliterated siddur, but I really encourage you not to go that route.  It’s way too easy to get into a rut, and then you’ll never stop.)   

Anyway, on that same subject, learning to daven in services is really hard.  I more or less have it under control now, I know when to sit and stand, I know what goes when, and how to find things in a siddur.  I don’t trip over prayers any more often than the rabbi does (which is every once and a while, and boy is it funny to hear.  Nothing cracks you up during services like hearing the rabbi stumble over the words in Aleinu.  Ok, lots of things do, but I still have a point.  It’s still funny.)   However, as great as I am now (and that’s pretty great, the last several weeks I have finished the Amidah right before the Rabbi has started to move on to the rest of the service.  I think that’s pretty good), during the learning process, there are bound to be amusing stories that occur. At my school, there are generally only two girls on the women’s side of the mechitza, and both of us are converting, so we were both less than perfectly familiar with the service.  This means that every once and a while we’d forget to sit after say, the first please rise of the Shabbat Shachrit service, and end up standing all the way through to the Shema.  Of course, this meant that we were unlikely to want to stand for any of the rest of it, so we’d stand for the Amidah, and sit back down for Ein Keloheinu, and remain seated as we started reciting Aleinu from memory, only to leap to our feet at “V’anachnu korim…”  And there’s the time when we missed the page number for Hallel, and the announcement that that was what we were reading, so we had to stand on our tiptoes to see the page in the leader’s siddur.  Of course, I think the most amusing story wasn’t even our fault.  Services were being held at a different location that week, and they didn’t realize that we only had 1 Hebrew/English siddur, and three people who didn’t speak Hebrew there.  After half an hour of debate, they decided that the best thing to do was to have the two girls daven out of Yom Kippur Machzorim, and the one guy would use the regular Hebrew/English Siddur.  This would have been amusing on it’s own, but I think my favorite part was the Rabbi leaning over and telling us things like “the next paragraph is just for Yom Kippur, skip that” or “Jump ahead 5 pages, and that’s where we are”  All in all, an incredibly amusing day. 🙂 

Feel free to share your amusing shul stories in the comments! (read: Comment please, I love comments!)

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