15 minutes in Synagogue

This woman is walking in late and chooses our aisle to sit in. We scrunch and stand and let her by.

I’ve been to this synagogue only once before, and the Bat Mitzvah is beautiful!

So what if she decides to sit right next to me, even though there’s a whole aisle to choose from.

“This is so nice,” she loudly whispers to me and adds, “I’m looking for my friend.” I wonder what wins with politeness: responding to the stranger talking to you during the service at a synagogue, or being quiet so you can pay attention to the service.

I decide to nod as kindly as I can, with a smile.

I’m trying to ignore her as she checks her phone, and sends an email. But then she starts loudly whispering again.

“Is this where they will have the baby naming too?”

I want to tell her that even though it’s my best friend’s daughter up there, and I have been here before, I still don’t know enough about this service to answer the question. But I realize that is a little long-winded.

I shrug my shoulders and say, “I’m actually from out of town. I’m not sure. Did you check the program?”

She nods and says she did. “I’m looking for my friend,” she repeats as she searches the room.

I turn my attention back to the prayers.

“Oh! There she is! But where’s the baby?” The woman whisper-exclaims.

That’s when she starts waving to try to get her friends attention.

The room is praying and she is waving and then her phone rings. She works to turn her phone off for a few seconds, and finally feels successful.

Only I notice that instead of turning the phone off, she has accidentally answered it.

My 16 year-old who has been trying to make sure he does all the things he’s supposed to do from turning off his phone to the sitting and the standing and the opening the book to the proper page, and turning the page in the correct direction finally widens his eyes a bit so only I can see.

I’m not actually sure what I should do. I look over at my son with my face scrunched and my eyes wide for just a second. I don’t want to talk during the praying, and I don’t want to embarrass the woman. So I just decide that the person who called her will either hang up or I guess, start praying.

A few minutes later the woman whispers again to tell me that it is her friend being celebrated. And then she decides she wants to go sit next to her friend.

So we scrunch and stand as she makes her way out of the aisle.

I look at my son, we take a deep breath, and we continue to watch my friends daughter as she does an amazing job leading prayers and speaking to us all.

1 thought on “15 minutes in Synagogue

  1. Oh, the dreaded phone ringing in services. I’ll never forget someone’s phone ringing at Kol Nidre services several years ago. Most people would’ve turned it off. But not the guy who got the call. Loudly he said, “Hello? I can’t talk right now, I’m in services for Yom Kippur.” Oh. My. Goodness.

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