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05/04/2020 04:18:59 PM


Yaakov Aspir

The Aspir Shul

When we first went into lockdown, my first thought was: I haven't been (too) late to shul in almost two years. I was upset about breaking my best personal record. When I made this remark to my oldest son, Gabi, he responded, "Dad, being a Jew isn't like baseball. It isn’t about keeping streaks."

Though I will still cherish my consecutive attendance record and maybe win a YINWIE for it when we reopen, I see his point.  
Shul was such a central part of my life. The president is never on vacation. Shabbat gave me a time to be together with the community that I serve. We have our good weeks and our tough weeks, but at least we were all able to be in shul together.
I loved the meme going around (despite its grammatical deficiencies) about knowing how to daven b'yichidus and not needing rabbis to tell us how to daven alone:

But I wasn't really davening b'yichidus. I was going to daven with my boys.

We appropriately named our new living room shul KBA (Kehillat Beit Aspir). Danny was inducted as the new President (although he quit pretty fast). Gabi became the baal tefilla, gabbai and first-baal koreh. I was demoted to the backup baal koreh
Any week that the weather is nice, we go outside to sing Kabbalat Shabbat. Our neighbor, who happens to be Yoni's rebbe in school, tells us he enjoys our choir.
It used to drive me crazy that I could never be late, never have an "off week" as shul president. Now, after so many "off weeks," I wish I could be in shul more. I even miss the complaints and critics (though not too much). But that's how far we’ve come with this pandemic. 
Shabbat davening has taken on new meaning for me and my family. Davening with my boys is so nice and uplifting. We sing our hearts out for Kabbalat Shabbat, and it's the most intense experience of davening I've ever had. Maybe we should start davening Carlebach in the YINW when we get back! 
As the interim rabbi of our little congregation, Gabi will read out the time for kriyat shema, so we know we can't start shacharit too late. This is the only time I slack. I do say shema, but generally come late to shul. They're usually by yishtabach by the time I sneak in. I did surprise them once and showed up first. They were so stunned and happy, but I decided to return to my old routine. I had been petitioning for a 10am or 11am minyan, but they won’t relent and start promptly at 9am. 
It's funny how our minyan has evolved over these last 8 (yes 8!) weeks. While I started leading us off as the regular chazan, Gabi shortly took over, which I love. He also gives the divrei torah and divrei chizuk! (He can be a little charif, but that's okay). Danny announces the times for the next davening. I remind everyone of sefirah. Gabi and I now take turns reading aliyahs, which has been really helpful with all these double parshas. Danny instituted a Kiddush Club of sorts. As the newest bar mitzvah boy in the house, he makes kiddush after davening so we can all snack before lunch. No alcohol for the 13 year old. I haven't gone CovIdiot yet.
These are the small pieces of happiness I can take away from this time in isolation. I love davening with my congregation and I find this special time to be a small gift in an otherwise gloomy experience.

And as we say at KBA, remember to say shema before zman!!

By: Yaakov Aspir

Fri, December 1 2023 18 Kislev 5784