It wasn't until I got out of the shower and put on my most conservative outfit, a black skirt, white blouse, and high heels--not that it mattered, not that anyone cares or even notices what people wear at my synagogue, but it felt like the right thing to do--that I started to get nervous. I reviewed the siddur, marked with color-coded Post-its and pencil notes that said "Breathe! Relax!." In a few places I had big question marks and the word "Rotate??" I had asked the cantor how I would know which prayers and verses to sing. The rabbis made it look seamless--one would follow immediately after the other finished a liine, as if they planned it in advance. But they didn't. "I can tell you what to sing," said the cantor, "but I'd rather not. We'll divide everything three ways. Just come in when it's your turn."
"The rabbi will give you a signal, and I'll see your body language," he added. He sat off to the side, perpendicular to the bima, able to watch every move we made--but we couldn't turn around and look back, at least not while praying. "I'll jump in if you don't." It was a little unnerving to realize that the flow of the service depended upon a network of subtle shrugs and glances.
I would have been totally unnerved, knowing how uptight I get when I have to get up and do things in front of a large crowd anyway, and as you said relying on someones shrug or glance. Good thing no one had an itch......I mean that in good humor. I have to go into some transcendant state when I have to do things like that. Half the time I have no recollection of what I have done, only that I did it by "memory", like it is a piece of myself.
I know exactly what you mean...I was terrified, and remember very little about the actual experience. (But I'll get to that soon!)
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