Friday, May 25, 2007

Holidays by the sea

I went away for Shavuot. What a fascinating experience. Our family was invited by friends from the DC area to Bethany Beach, Delaware. Apparently, this is a tradition amongst people from the DC/Silver Spring area that has been around for over 20 years. Who knew? Obviously, wanting to be sure that I would be able to observe the holiday on which we celebrate receiving the Torah, I wanted to know "will there be a minyan? Will there be a Torah? The reply from our friend was "not only is there a minyan, but there is a break - away as well. For the un-initiated, in many communities, for political and/or religious reasons, synagogues find it necessary to break away from their founding institutions. Hence, the term "break - away." This phenomena is usually much more prevalent among orthodox congregations, but in recent years, the trend seems to have spread. In my community, I am aware of at least one conservative and one reform congregation that have had this happen. In any event, Bethany's break away is not exactly that. It seems that there is a small congregation in the town, but far away from the beach resorts that people go to for the holiday. In order to ensure that people had a place to go, apparently the Chabad of Wilmington rents out space in a nearby hotel, and people who come for the holiday self -organize the services and the very elaborate kiddush that follows it. It is an amazing thing. 200 people show up at a resort community for the holiday. No Rabbi. No Gabbai. (officially, anyway) But it all happens. There is a large minyan. A fairly large group of people stayed up all night on the first night of Shavuot to learn, as is the custom. The people who come to this shore community are a modern orthodox group, but very laid back by normative standards. No suits or ties. The men wore sandals, no socks.
One of the thing that I thought was amazing, was that the the megillah of Ruth, traditionally read in synagogues on Shavuot, has been read the last few years by different women in the congregation. A beautiful custom that I have never had the opportunity to have because of my participation in traditional orthodox services. I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the women who have done it in the past did not come this year, and yours truly was "forced" to read Ruth for everyone there.
I guess I will have to go back next year.


donald said...

did you use your soprano voice while wearing a burqua to recite the Ruth?

donald said...

Writer's block or tired blogging?
Are there no Agunas left to save?