(I've been busy writing...for a class, which is wonderful, has a few more weeks to go, and is using up a critical mass of my writing-related brain cells. I'll be back here to resume my story on a more regular basis after the class ends.)
Another observation about the unique talents of F. the gabbai. No coordinating tie this week--the Torah portion was Pinchas, who at the end of last week's reading slew an Israelite who consorted with a Midianite. The story continues with other sad and serious themes. Perhaps F. could have worn a tie decorated with yearling lambs, part of the catalogue of sacrifies listed at the end of the parasha, but I'm glad he did not.
When the first person to receive an honor went up the to the bima and, as is the custom, whispered his Hebrew name to the rabbi so he could be officially announced, the rabbi turned to all of us and said, "F. has once again done a wonderful job of finding someone for the first aliyah." (Things are casual in the summer--honorees are chosen by F. on the fly, a mix of visitors and old stalwarts.) F. has an uncanny sense for finding people who appreciate, and need, the aliyah--he once chose a woman who turned out to be a Holocaust survivor attending services for the first time in 40 years--but I wondered why the rabbi decided to comment. The guy at the bima looked completely unfamiliar, and pretty average. Maybe he was someone famous that I didn't recognize.
Then the rabbi announced the man's Hebrew name.
"Pinchas!" he said.
Yes, on the occasion of parashat Pinchas, F. picked, out of a crowd of a few hundred people he neither knew nor quizzed beforehand, someone whose Hebrew name was Pinchas.