January 20th, 2014

(relatively) recent

Mourning update

I realise it may seem from what I've been saying that my reaction to Jewish mourning practises is completely negative. That is not the case at all, and in particular on the day of my mother's funeral it was a... comfort is probably not the right word, but I can't think of anything closer—to me to have everything completely scripted for me, from the graveside kaddish to the shiva rituals.

Today I was asked to join Machzikei Hadath, the shul where I have been davening weekdays Shacharis. (I said no; I have no intention of paying for two shuls' membership, particularly when one is only on a temporary basis.) They asked if I wanted to take the service several times last week; I said I'd wait until Sunday when the time pressure was a bit lighter, as I'm not a fast davener. On Sunday morning another אָבֵל was already standing at the עָמוּד, but they offered me to take from the second Ashrei to the end (i.e. the last few pages!); having then, presumably, seen I could actually take Shacharis, they then offered me to take mincha too.

For weekday mincha I tried out today the supposedly Sephardi Deutsche Bank minyan,* as slightly nearer than the City Road minyan I'd been going to, though most of the gain in time was then lost getting a pass to enter the building, and travelling up to the eighth floor via most of the intervening ones. I suspect most of the five minutes' time I was able to reclaim of my lunchbreak was due to chazzan davening exceptionally fast. There was no stack of siddurim there; this being the City, almost everyone else was clad in a suit and davening from their smartphone. To my surprise, the service was Ashkenazi and led by a man with Ashkenazi pronunciation. *shrug* Go figure.

* Now there's an irony.

In the evening I've been going to Ohel Moshe, as Machzikei Hadath daven at sunset, when I'm still at work. I've been turning up for a week now, and it should be bleeding obvious that I'm a new mourner (from my new beard; also sometimes I'm the only one saying kaddish), but I'm still waiting for anyone there to say a single word to me, let alone offer for me to lead the service as many (but not all) people seem to believe I am under obligation to do. If no one has done so by the time I stop going there until the autumn (see below), I intend to stand up and have a rant about their hospitality prior to walking out on my last day.

So, to the future. I'd been planning before and during the start of my mourning period to drop to a single service a day once the שְׁלוֹשִׁים were over, but I'm now thinking of how I can reclaim time without sacrificing services. I'm thinking of turning up to Machzikei Hadath in time for the first kaddish, reciting a bare-bones Shacharis by myself then leaving immediately after בָּרְכוּ. They won't like it—I'll probably lose any respect I might have gained there—but it'll reclaim me a little over twenty minutes most of the week, and a little over thirty on Mondays and Thursdays. Then, if I can hang on in there with the other services for another month and a bit—or less if I'm prepared to shorten my lunchbreak or finish the day's work at home—I can switch to mincha and ma`ariv at Machzikei Hadath, which will regain me twenty minutes travel time at lunchtime, and a further five in the evening.

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