Saturday, May 18, 2013

An Advantage From the Vantage of the Women's Gallery

Honestly, I don't mind sitting far from the action in shul, the synagogue.  I have a great seat in the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Section of our local synagogue.  I'm not looking for honors or responsibilities that the men get.  I don't need it.  My life is full and busy enough.  The "balcony" is far enough away so that nobody has ever complained about my singing along loudly.  Nobody down there hears me.  If I ever have the need to say Kaddish, that will be between me and G-d.  Plenty of females have said it from our Ezrat Nashim.  Nobody has ever asked for a spotlight.

I'm in the front row, center.  It's a crazy story how I got that seat.  My original seat was on the far side, by the wall, in the middle row, third out of five.  I liked it.  I could lean against the wall when we had to stand for long periods of time.  I never had to give it to anyone else when there was a Bar Mitzvah.  Now, I graciously give my seat to the women of families celebrating Bar Mitzvahs and other special occasions, so they can see and kvell.  I tell them that it's no problem; it's just my way of participating in their joyous occasion. It's true.

There was one problem with my old seat.  That row was across from the door and targeted by draughts, cold, cold ones.  I just couldn't take it and complained, begging everyone to keep the door shut.  I was told that I should just wear more clothes, my coat, shawls and scarves.  I'm also terribly hyper and noticed everyone coming in.  Eventually I was offered a new seat.  A neighbor didn't like sitting in the front row.  So we switched seats.  We were both happy with the arrangement.

Now, there's something else I must tell you about my seat.  I can see what goes on in the Men's section.  I can see who is wandering around talking.  I can see who is reading all sorts of things other than their siddur and obviously not dovening.  I can see if it's one of those Parshat Shavua pages, a newspaper or a book.  I can see if the pages are being turned or if the men are sleeping/dozing or just staring into space.  I'm like some sort of spy.  I can see them, but they can't see me.

One thing for sure is that the women who come to shul on Shabbat morning are much more serious about their dovening than the men ever are.

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