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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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December 2010
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Shabbaton

This was Jonathan's baby - he's been wanting to do one of these for a long time now, and even had to push it off twice. And it was amazing and wonderful and, yes, inspirational (I hate that word, I really do, but it's the one that fit..)

He's sleeping now, but before I finish this, he'll be awake and grumbling and on his way to a board meeting. To be followed by a general membership meeting. He was joking about setting up a cot in the synagogue this week.

Friday
Phone calls and phone calls and phone calls all week = "How much is it?" "Is there programming on Shabbos day?" "When is the dinner/after-dinner programming/maleve malkah?" "Who is speaking and on what?" "Can I bring my son?" Phone calls right up until I lit candles for Shabbos, actually.

Micha stayed with us. He got here just as I was taking the chicken out of the oven. I bustled around clearing the table and making the morning coffee and then Jonathan called in a panic because the printer wasn't able to print the siddur (prayerbook) that was to be a souvenir of the shabbaton. And then he was, but he wouldn't be finished until after dark (he would have a non-Jewish employee to that.)

So we rush through showers and get dressed and I light my candles and we send Micha off to mincha, while I finish my coffee and Jonathan, who had not accepted Shabbat upon himself, printed a list of attendees, and then we were off -me carrying the program giveaways and Jonathan going to the printer.

He got to the synagogue, sans siddurim because they were *still* not finished, just in time to lead the kabbalat shabbat (theservice welcoming the Sabbath). Jonathan did it because part of the program was to use extra tunes to encourage singing along. He did a wonderful job and got everyone singing together. And then he realized that as the siddurim would be "nolad" - created new on Shabbat - he couldn't use them anyway until afterwards. So he decided that instead of running over between ma'ariv and the dinner, he'd get them next week and give them out later. It's not like we didn't have plenty of shul siddurim anyway.

The dinner was...well. We rent our shul from a local girl's school (that used to be a movie studio, and is right next to the "As The World Turns" studio. We sometimes see extras smoking outside.) and we had permission to use the school cafeteria for our dinner. Many local schools make extra money as catering halls, and decorate their cafeterias accordingly. This school doesn't, so we were clearly eating in a cafeteria.

Jonathan, as defacto host (our own rabbi was at the end stages of stomach flu and while he was well enough by Shabbos morning, he wasn't going to push it Friday night and stayed home) sat at the head table (U-shaped arrangement, with seating on both sides of the leg. Very feudal). We only do separate seating when halachically required, so I sat next to him.

Since the person who arranged the catering wasn't there, I ended up dealing with the caterers. Which I didn't know until it, um happened. That is, until they began asking me when to serve the courses. I'm not sure why they picked me, except that I was at that table, but so was Rebbitzen F. And I didn't know caterers needed to be told these things. What to do with leftovers, sure, but when to serve the main course? But I did, and it was fine. They started the kumsitz (singing traditional songs) between the main and the dessert course, but I don't sing. So I played with a friend's toddler instead.

The kumsitz morphed into shir hamalot, which is the psalm we sing before saying the grace after meals. However, that's when the dessert came out. So Micha ruled that people should say a bracha before eating the dessert (which is normal custom anyway, even though the blessing over bread covers the entire meal except the wine.) We finished dessert, said the grace, dealt with the minimal leftovers and went back to the shul.

There were a number of people there already. We got things sorted out and sat down on the men's side for Micha's talk (theme - "Are we a nation of doormats?" Meaning - when do we let things go and when do we speak up?) and then broke into discussion groups. This proved mildly controversial. See, Micha comes from a background that assumes that discussion groups should be single sex. He also thinks (and I do agree with this) that, in general, the dynamics that happen with mixed groups is less than productive. Not because there's sexual tension, but because men tend to take over.

However, we proceeded as planned. Micha facilitated the men's discussion and I facilitated the women's. And it went very well - I had a group of intelligent and outspoken women who used the time well. It was also a lot of fun. Afterwards, we go back together for a few minutes and then we all went home.

Shabbos day
I got to shul in time for the haftarah. Normal for me - but there was also the fact that the sweater I wanted to wear is now unwearable - worn blotches looking like dark spots all over the front. Oh, well. I liked that sweater.

I found another sweater that would do as well, but it did make me a bit late. No sermon, of course, because of the ongoing program. We had kiddush after musaf. The place was so crowded that I took my bowl of cholent to the men's side (we have kiddush on the women's side) so I could breathe. Wasn't just the heat. Large crowds in enclosed spaces are not good. I sat and chatted with a friend until kiddush was over, and everyone recongregated in the men's side. Rabbi Feldman gave his talk, which was about loving HaShem. Rabbi Feldman has a job very few of us would envy - he's the rabbi for a hospice. And he's very kind, gentle and softspoken. He's just the sort of person to deliver this talk, in other words.

This time, we tried to do something special for the breakout sessions. As I said, some women didn't like the idea of separate sex groups (we asked who wanted mixed, and only women raised their hands.) So they decided to have three groups - male, to go over to the cafeteria and be led by R'Feldman, mixed, to go over to the women's side and be led by our friend Wayne, and women to stay where we were and be led by our friend Sharon.

Half went with Wayne, and the resulting single sex groups were too small. So the people who wanted seperate became a mixed group and were led by R'Feldman. So both were led by men. And the men were dominant even with the intelligent and outspoken women we had there. I think it was a mistake, in other words. And it had been my idea to have three groups.

Ah, well.

After this, we all went home for lunch. After lunch, Jonathan began showing off his antique s'forim, all of which I'd seen, so I...well, I fell asleep is what I did. I woke up, in fact, two hours later. AFTER Shabbos was over. Just in time to answer the phone. Which began ringing again.
Maleve Malkah
Even before we left for the maleve malkah (escorting the queen, a dinner of sorts we have after Shabbat is over), we knew we were a financial success - the money we'd already collected had paid for everything. And we knew some people owed us money and that we'd get more that night, so. Yay.

We did run out of food. If I'd been in charge of the catering, I'd have gotten more, but. *Shrug*. Only one person really missed out and we gave her half off, which made her happy.

The program that night was a panel discussion - three rabbis giving short speechs and then a Q&A, moderated by a fourth rabbi. Subject - "Simple Faith vs. Philosophy." Since our rabbi's degree is in philosophy, it just worked beautifully. Brilliant, brilliant speeches and good questions from the congregation.

And people kept thanking Jonathan. As his parents had come for the evening, they got to hear this, too. :)

I'm very, very proud of him. He did an amazing job, and it was something perfect for our synagogue. I think everyone came out of it a winner.

Comments

It fulfilled most definitions of "success", I'd say. The glitches were very minor indeed.

Once it started, it just flowed, with only one or two complaints. Which is pretty darn good, when you get 60-70 people together to try a new thing. Also, the shul turned a decent profit, while the shabbaton itself was quite cheap as such things go ($50 for the full program).