This past Shabbat morning F., the gabbai, helped lead services in honor of the anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah a couple of decades ago. ("He didn't finish what he wanted to say back then, so we're giving him another chance," joked the rabbi.) I suspect F. looked pretty much the same at 13 as he does now, with an equally silly and sharp sense of humor. He explained that even though part of this week'sTorah portion talks about the rituals of Passover, he would wait until the actual holiday to wear his matzah tie. He also offered an appropriately gabbai-centric d'var Torah. Last Simchat Torah, F. recalled, the mayor of New York himself made an appearance at services while we were all dancing ourselves silly. (Holiday visits to synagogues by candidates for higher office are the Upper West Side version of kissing babies.) A member of Bloomberg's retinue, judging F. to be a man of some importance, cornered him and announced that Bloomberg would be entering through one door and exiting via another. "OK," said the unimpressed F., and went about his business while the functionary no doubt wondered why a rose-strewn path wasn't being cleared. (I almost danced smack into Bloomberg while he stood at that very door. He looked unseasonably tan and wore an expensive suit and spray-painted smile. But it was cool to see him nevertheless.)
In this week's haftarah for Shabbat Ha-Hodesh, continued F., we're given the following instructions in Ezekiel 46:8 as part of the ritual for a rebuilt Temple: "When the prince enters, he shall come in by the vestibule of the gate, and he shall go out the same way." Some things, F. concluded, never change.