Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Hocker’s Strike Back! (Or Why I Hate Simcahs Torah)

To me, when I was a kid, Simchas Torah was a great time. We got to stay up late, dance, get a flag, and pretty much do whatever we wanted. In my shul, since there were so few kids, we got to get up and sing “Ain Adir” if we wanted to. And of course, we got to help hold the Torah. I felt so grown up. Fast forward 20 years and I hate it. Here are some reasons why:
  1. Bidding wars. The first issue is the silly grins the gabboim get on their faces when the bidding on aliayas starts. You also can’t really judge how bad the economy is when some Hocker bids $15,000. 00 on Chosson Torah. Many shuls have tried different approaches to stop the madness, but to no avail. And why should they when a large chunk of change will be coming the shul’s way and you get a Kiddush sponsored to boot!
  2. Next is the “cool guys” who go out for a smoke with all of the kids milling around. Way to set an example you Hockers.
  3. The orchestration. This is a time of year when shul board members and hockers come into their full prime. From telling you where you can dance (or even worse, that you have to dance), to what kind of candy you are allowed to even give your own kids, these guys are in their element on Simchas Torah. Heaven forbid you want to sing a different song after singing the same “Anah, anah anah…” 200 times.
  4. The dancing. I don’t really know what non Jews call dancing, but endlessly marching around in circles and occasionally stomping one foot seems a lot more like an ancient druid ritual than dancing. This is what Jews call dancing. Why can’t I stand on the side if I feel like it without some board member or hocker trying to pull me into a circle just so I can get my foot stomped on?
  5. The time. There should be a Kol Korei on Hakafos that last more than 15 minutes, and that’s stretching it. I always get so mad, some hocker/board member has stretched the Hakafa out really long and had been holding the heaviest torah, and sweating all over it. They come over and practically dump the darned thing in your lap and go on to more pointless foot stomping. It’s really annoying.
  6. No real food in most shuls on Simchas Torah night. I need to have something more that cake if I’m going to be held hostage until 11:00 at night. BTW, I’ve offered to co-sponsor some food along with two other friends, but the “board” doesn’t want it so it will not be happening. And for the record, I’m not davening with my shul on Simchas Torah.
  7. The drinking. This is not Purim, get a life people!
  8. The sugar factories. When I was a kid, we got peanuts, chick peas, sponge cake and a lollypop. Last year there was so much candy I thought my kids would go into sugar shock. Certain shul members noticed that the gross lollipops that the shul picked out. They looked like a male’s privates with a hole in the center that squirts up goo when squeezed. Thank you Pazkes. I can’t imagine a more obscene candy, yet the Cahreidim haven’t banned it yet.

So do you hate Simcas torah to? Feel free to add to the list. Chag Samayach!


Jacob Da Jew said...

Wow, thats a kickass post yo.

First, my Shul hustles thru the Hakafos at a reasonable pace at night. No candy, quick bidding.

Second, in honor of my joining the Shul a year ago, I will be sponsering Kugel from Flatbush Takeout during the day.

Usually, they just have a kiddush on cake and shnapps but I felt that some hot stuff would do us all good.

Finally, You're totally welcome to join us.

daveningbydekoisel said...

Is that a poyester suit i smell?.....couldn't agree more and am also boycotting the shenanigans this year!!

BrooklynWolf said...

Wow! I guess I'm really lucky.

Here's how my shul scores on your checklist:

Bidding Wars: None. And this is a shul that can really use the money (it's a small minyan that rents a basement). We also don't sell aliyos for the Yomim Noraim or anything else.

Smokers: None. No one (to the best of my knowledge) goes outside to smoke.

Orchestration: Aside from a few common piyutim that are sung (Ain Adir, etc.), it's pretty much whatever song strikes the crowd at the right time. No one tells anyone where to dance.

The Dancing: Well, you've got me on this one. But this is the same everywhere!

Time: Our hakafos are strictly 10-15 minutes each. No more.

No Real Food: Since we're not there until 11:00 at night on Simchas Torah, we don't need real food. By day the rebetzzin provides food. Good food, too. :)

Drinking: I've been at my current shul for four years. I have yet to see someone drunk.

Sugar Factories: Yeah, the kids in my shul have all sorts of junk. So what?

Overall, I think you might like it in my shul. We pass most of the items on your checklist.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Polyester suit??

Tr8erGirl said...

Boy - Im glad Im a girl and don't have to deal with half those things!

"Certain shul members noticed that the gross lollipops that the shul picked out. They looked like a male’s privates with a hole in the center that squirts up goo when squeezed. Thank you Pazkes. I can’t imagine a more obscene candy, yet the Cahreidim haven’t banned it yet."


Have a good one!

Lakewood Falling Down said...

Jacob- Gilmour and I may join you.
daveningbydekoisel-shenanigans make the world go round.
Brooklynwolf-It's a lucky guy who can enjoy a Yom Tov for what it's supposed to be- a Chag.
Tr8tergirl-Chag samayach! BTW, the best pictures are always on Shabbos and Yom Tov. My mother lin law would love to see her children in a photo by kol hanearim. Enjoy taking the baby, and make sure you get to see it!

logic613 said...

LFD - You such an angry white man! Firstly, I have told you this a million times, you need to leave your shul. Period. Your list is basically what you hate about your shul.

My shul is actually turning a bit towards the direction yours is and I'm seriously considering switching.

Another thing. You must be the best parents in the world because your kids are basically untouched by the negative influences.

In my shul they smoke right outside the front door, so everytime the door opens the place smells like a cheap pool hall.

Lakewood Falling Down said...

Logic- Thank you for the compliment, we try hard with the kids. As far as leaving my shul, I like the rov. Every other shul has the same drawbacks. And I am leaving them for Yom Tov.

daveningbydekoisel said...


the suit's an inside joke,speaks to frame of mind,chag sameach

Lion of Zion said...

the last couple of years we've gone away to friends in teaneck and i wasn't looking forward to being stuck in brooklyn this year.

i leined a couple of times in a shul over the summer (ave. m area) that i've been davening in here and there recently.

i was there for הקפות and i can say that none of your complaints apply to this shul, with one small exception. there were 2 guys who went outside at one point for a smoke. i was a bit surprised that this would happen in this shul.

my biggest problem was that at a certain point jr wanted to go outside to play (the shul is in a school that has a humongous playground). the mrs also didn't like the הקפות because she got used to the shul we'd been going to for a while, where they let the women come down for הקפות. here she was stuck behind the מחיצה.

Lion of Zion said...


a few years ago on ראש השנה i was davening in my mother's shul and got into an argument with a guy who didn't understand why i didn't want him smoking in the back room where all the kids play. i can understand why people smoke, but why around children?

Moshe said...

No bidding in my shul on Simchas Torah.

A couple smokers.

Dancing's more fun.

Hakofos not too long. Maybe at most 20 minutes and only during the day.

We have full kiddush by day. At night, we finish around 9 so cakes are enough.

Russian shul, no such thing as no drinking. If you even think about it while there you're suicidal.

My kid pretty much sticked to the cake.

tnspr569 said...

Umm...try getting out of town?

Seriously, the world outside of the tri-state area can be a wonderful place.

Enjoy the time with your kids.

The Hedyot said...

How can you complain about people who dictate what kind of candy other people can have ("the hockers who tell you what kind of candy you are allowed to even give your own kids"), and then right afterwards gripe about the current candy situation? ("When I was a kid, we got peanuts, chick peas, sponge cake and a lollypop. Last year there was so much candy I thought my kids would go into sugar shock.")

Sounds a bit hypocritical to me! (Yeah, I realize that you're not actually telling them what to do, but you're judging them just the same.)

Lakewood Falling Down said...

Moshe- I'd love to actually see a Kol Korie on smoking. It won't happen any time soon, unfortunately.
The Hedyot- Yeah, I'm being a bit judgmental, but I should be allowed to give my own kids whatever I like w/o comments like "we don't do that here". BTW, you have an interesting site!

Lion of Zion said...


"I'd love to actually see a Kol Korie on smoking. It won't happen any time soon, unfortunately."

it has happened. in 2006 the RCA's ועד הלכה issued a unanimous פסק that that smoking is אסור

and numerous individual rabbis have pronounced against it.

even rav moshe, whose פסק smoking advocates like to cite, forbade smoking in a בית מדרש (iirc)

Ben-Yehudah said...


I agree with you on all of the above.

That's why I don't go to any "mainstream" minyanim.

Even in Meah Shaarim, there are a few wathiqin minyanim, where people can go, then not be held hostage all day before hearing the qeriyah and davening musaf.

Martin said...

Truly a kickass post! For the past decade I have been getting severe depression on Simchas Torah. By the time it comes around, after 2 days Rosh Hashana, Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur itself, 2 days Succos, Shabbos Chol Hamoed (you get the picture) Hoshana Rabba, Shemini Atzeres - endless meals, too much time spent in shul in the company of dirtbags I would normally cross the street to avoid...

Why don't I change shuls? Coz I live in a small town and my choice is VERY limited...

But on the point of drinking, I recently discussed it with Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky (big pat on my back) and he agreed we need to get serious about the rampant alcoholism that takes the guise of being "freilich" esp on Simchas Torah and Purim.

Anonymous said...

re: No real food in most shuls on Simchas Torah night
In Bais Halevy (see they had a warm kiddush by night!

Frayda said...

I'm sure you don't really mean that you hate Simchas Torah. Maybe you can make some suggestions to the board to try and change things for next yom tov.

000646 said...


Lighten the hell up you guys!

sheesh you sound like a bunch of old grumpy farts!!!!

Jacob Da Jew said...

so u coming to my shul this year?