Friday, December 22, 2006

Can Boys Do That?

Tonight's one of the nights I sit on the bimah at my synagogue to make announcements at the end of the service.

"Thanks to the Rabbi, Cantor and accompanist who lead us in worship; please join us in the social hall after services for wine, challah, punch, pastries and camaraderie; please try not to run over the other children in the parking lot when you drop your own kid off for Sunday morning religious school." You get the idea.

Near the beginning of our services, a congregant lights candles and recites a prayer to welcome the beginning of the Sabbath. In traditional Judaism, this is a commandment fulfilled by women. Men lead most every prayer in traditional Judaism, but not this one.

Anyway, because I have bimah duty this weekend, the synagogue kindly offered the candle-lighting honor to my wife (or, as she prefers to be called, my reason for being.)

She was honored, but our erev Shabbat services don't start until 8:15 pm and niether of us really wanted to keep Monkeyboy in DC out until eleven when his bed time is nine o'clock or so.

I conveyed her thanks and her regrets to the synagogue office and asked, what if I do it?

A friend who's a former president of the shul told me he'd stood in as candle-blesser at least once when he was president, so I knew I was not proposing something unprecedented, just rare.

They said sure.

So I'm lighting candles tonight. We're Reform. We can do that sort of thing.

At home, the three of us always recite the prayers over the Shabbat candles together, in Hebrew and English, holding hands and followed by a cascade of kisses. So I'm pretty sure I'll get my lines right.

But I'm very curious about whether a man in this role usually fulfilled by women will cause consternation, commendation or curiousity.

It'd be nice if, in Reform Judaism at least, we've reached the point where it's of no concern at all.

I'll be interested to see.


Anonymous said...

Technically, men are obligated to light Shabbat candles, and unmarried men do it for themselves all the time. I don't see why anyone should make a "thing" out of it. It is funny how in certain areas the Reform movement has lots to work on that other areas of Judaism have done, and vice versa.

How are you feeling?

David in DC said...


Better. Thanks.

Last hoiliday party of the year in my office in about 8 minutes, and we get off two hours early today.

Looking forward to playing Yahtzee and Triominos with Monkeyboy, later. Both fun games, both good for math skills, both require no handicap for us to play on a level field.

I'll post again, about the candles, when I see how folks react.

Anonymous said...

I hope all goes well tonight! I'm glad you're doing better.

Oh, and you and MonkeyBoy might like Uno Spin. It's a new twist on Uno, and it's super fun.

Happy Holidays!