While My Hazzan Gently Weeps

Shabbats are the toughest.

I used to look forward to them and they used to bring me so much joy. Now they depress me.

And I carry that sadness for days.

I was supposed to be the Hazzan this Shabbat at the Karaite synagogue in Daly City, California. I was supposed to be sitting next to my father who *always* showed up on time and who always got the service started because I only rarely showed up at the start.

I was supposed to be holding my son and daughter as they come up to the bima to be next to me when I pray. I was supposed to be fielding questions from my son while trying to conduct a service. I was supposed to be constantly adjusting my daughter’s tallit. I was supposed to glance over at my wife as she smiles watching this whole thing unfold.

I am so sad to miss this.

I miss the old men discussing (some may say ‘bickering’) about whether we are supposed to read a certain portion this week or whether we are supposed to skip it and add something new because we are in some period of the year that no one really focuses on anymore.

I miss the old women learning to read and pray and recite and chant part of the Karaite liturgy. It was so beautiful to see their progress.

I miss the food. God how I miss the food.

I miss the feel of the rug under my feet. I miss kneeling in a place of prayer. I miss getting up slowly because the knees are not as limber as they used to be.

I miss digging deep and hitting my favorite notes. I miss rushing past the parts of the service I don’t really chant well. I miss stopping the service to address the congregation about something I had just observed in the way the liturgy was constructed.

I miss the off-key voices. I miss the voices weakened by age. I miss the slow readers, the fast readers, and the non-readers.

I miss it all.

In honor of everything I miss and perhaps in no small part to help me with my Karaite depression, I will be holding an online learning tonight: The 10 Karaites the World Needs to Know. Join me if you can. If not, you can catch it on youtube at some point.

May you shelter safely.

Details at this link.



Filed under Karaite Synagogues

8 Responses to While My Hazzan Gently Weeps

  1. Henry Mourad

    In these uncertain times, we feel what you feel. We resonate with your sentiments. The hope of reopening is a time healer. Let’s not despair. We shall overcome these trepidations soon enough. Enjoy Shabbat at home with your lovely family and sing with them all the beautiful Shabbat songs you’ve taught them.
    Wish you all good health and safety.

  2. Susan Elkodsi

    As I lead services on Zoom and look at people in their Hollywood Squares boxes, I feel what you feel, and I do miss the food I had at your synagogue last Purim!

    Thank you for sharing, and I hope you’re recording tonight’s talk for those of us who don’t stay up until midnight!

    blessings for health, safety and finding joy in the midst of this.

  3. Enrique Ramos

    I live inPuerto Rico, which is Eastern Time. What time shall I meet for the conference?

  4. Joe Pessah

    Things will get better and the difficult times will turn as memories that will teach us how to appreciate what we had.

    • Susan Elkodsi

      Joe, I agree, and we will also learn new ways of doing things that will see us well into the future.

  5. Ana Lopes

    Have hope, Shawn, things will get better!
    “In the day of prosperity be joyfull, and in the day of adversity consider; God have made even the one as well the other, to the end that the man should find nothing after him.” (Cohelet 7:14)

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