Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Davening With The Stars

This feature from the NY Times caught my eye today. It discusses midtown Manhattan's Congregation Ezrath Israel, which became known as "The Actor's Temple" back in the 20s and 30s due to its many celebrity congregants, including Jack Benny, Edward G. Robinson, Red Buttons, and Shelley Winters. Attendance has dropped off considerably in more recent decades, and the synagogue is now leasing extra space to off-Broadway productions. Somewhat fitting, but kind of sad all the same that the shul's glory days were so far in the past.

But supposing it had continued to thrive into the 60s and beyond? Here's what I think a typical Shabbos announcements might have sounded like (with a bit of timewarp help):
Yasher Koach to chazzanim Noach Diamond and Dovid Leib Roth for leading our services today. We especially enjoyed their inventive use of their new niggunim "Cherry, Cherry Dr. Brown's" and "I'm Just a Frier Yid" respectively.

Due to today's unfortunate occurrence, yet another congregational fast day will be held this Monday. Once again we must remind our gabbaim not to give hagbah to any of the Howard brothers or to Mr. Fine.

On a related note, we apologize to Mr. Allen for forgetting to give you an aliyah once again. Yes, we know it's been 389 straight weeks now! Next Shabbos, bli neder, we'll make sure you get something - at least Revi'i.

We remind all members to please make sure you are current with your synagogue dues, and that tickets to your latest premiere are not an acceptable substitute. Those who are seriously behind in dues will be receiving notices - are you listening, Mr. Benny and Mr. Alexander?

Our Scholar in Residence program for next Shabbos will feature Harvard professor Tom Lehrer who will be discussing his unique views on such diverse topics as Israel's nuclear program, the environment, interfaith dialogue, and literature.

Sisterhood president Streisand asks all those interested in taking part in the Sisterhood production of Yentl, to please contact her by the end of the week. Proceeds from the show will benefit our women's chavrusa program.

It's not too early to start planning for the High Holidays. Once again our services will be led by the father-in-law/son-in-law team of Zimmerman and Himmelman. Tickets start at $100 each for the back pews, and $250 each for back-bimah.

Mincha/maariv during the week will be at 8:00 pm, with a matinee mincha on Sunday and Wednesday at 2:00. Good Shabbos and break a leg!
And speaking of the famous folk music pair mentioned above, there's a wonderful, supposedly true (but possibly JUL-ish) story* about Pete's aufruf the Shabbos before his marriage to Dylan's daughter. The aufruf took place in an Orthodox synagogue, and Dylan came to the shul dressed in - well, let's just say, not exactly typical frum Shabbos garb. He received an aliyah as father of the bride, and someone in the congregation was heard to remark: "What a wonderful shul! Look how they're giving that poor homeless man an aliyah!"

* (h/t to Soccer Dad who reminded me of this story and blogged about it a couple of years back.)


At 11/30/06, 12:15 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Great stuff you've got there, Elie. I especially like the Howard brothers and Mr. Fine bit -- I can just picture that hagbah...complete with Stooges sound effects!

At 11/30/06, 10:55 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Who's Mr. Allen? I thought it was Koenigsberg?

A few years ago we went on one of those "Duck" tours around Philadelphia. One of the sites they pointed out was a cafe in the building where Larry Fine had lived.

At 11/30/06, 11:03 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Disappointing though that they couldn't get Gary Lee Weinrib to serve as a chazzan at all.

At 11/30/06, 11:14 AM, Blogger Elie said...

Pearl: Thanks!

David: "Weinreb" must daven at the shul for Canadian celebrities.

Mr. Koenigsberg only answers to "Allen" these days - as Kubelsky only answers to Benny and Greenspan to Alexander. You know how temperamental these celebs are!

At 11/30/06, 11:24 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

And I believe the president of the ladies auxiliary is leading a drive for a new Ner Tamid.

At 11/30/06, 12:50 PM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Soccer Dad and Elie, mr. Gary Weinrib, also known by his Hebrew name, Gedalia, apparently was bar mitzvahed at the shul(Orthodox) i used to attend before i moved a few years back. (does the fact that I davened at the same shul make me a "Canadian celebrity?") He grew up in that neighborhood. My brother used to be friends with G's brother when they were kids and in school together.
The story I've heard is that Geddy's real name is Gary, but his mother has such a thick Yiddsh accent, that when she'd call/yell to him, it sounded like "Geddy"! (an urban Jewish myth perhaps!?)

At 12/1/06, 11:08 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

The closest I got to celebrity was going to the same high school as Dean Friedman. Who?


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