Sunday, March 12, 2006

Selling aliyahs

Our shul has an interesting minhag to sell aliyahs on shabbos zachor, the shabbos before Purim. What makes this an especially interesting minhag is that we don't sell aliyahs any other time during the year.

Last year, we hosted my BILs wedding party right around Purim and had a house full for shabbos zachor. My wife, God bless her, got stayinbedanddontmove sick and I was left to deal with the children and the company. Normally this wouldn't be a problem and I would take all the kids to shul with me, but there were ladies sleeping in the boys room so I couldn't get them dressed. So I stayed home and played with them until one of the women got up and then headed off to shul by myself. I am usually an ontime shul goer. If I'm late, it is usually just after they started. That shabbos I walked up to the entrance around birchas kohanim. I was one of the gabbaim of the shul last year and there were two other gabbais talking outside. As I neared the building they saw me and said "Thank God you're here. You have to sell the aliyahs this year in English." Not having any clue what they were talking about and not having davened yet, I let them lead me up to the front of the shul where I sold the aliyahs in English and very poor hebrew.

This year, they had the decency to tell me in advance. I don't know why I was chosen, except maybe because I have the worst Hebrew in shul, and I'm not a gabbai anymore. But the current gabbais asked me to sell the aliyahs again and in the spirit of Purim and fun, I agreed. So I brought my brand new starw cowboy hat (Did I mention that it says Dale Earnheart on the side with the number 3?) to shul and went up to sell the aliyahs. This year there was no request to do it in English, so I sold most of them in Hebrew. I threw in an English joke and then in Hebrew said,"That doesn't translate well."
We try to confuse the average person, so the bidding is in objects instead of money. The first kovud went for cakes for the party. Now each cake costs 8 shekel, which they rounded to $2. So anybody who bid 1 ooga, was actually bidding $2. We also sold for sections of the curtains that they wanted to buy and candy bags for the children.

At one point I tzun dritinmulled and someone tried to bid afterwards. The concensus was that he didn't understand yiddish and was trying to figure out how much the aliyah would actually cost him if he bid on it, so we opened up the bidding on that aliyah again.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the performance, I even got people to laugh at some Hebrew jokes, though I did hear some people explaining to other people what was so funny. One of the politicos in shul kept trying to keep the currency in "kaful tov (without the vav)", because tet bet is the letters of the NU and NRP merger. At one point we had a discussion if someone said 4 times tov and someone else said 44 who gets it. Then someone bid for someone else, who yelled that he knew how to bid for himself if he wanted the aliyah.

All in all I had fun, and the congregation had fun and my children weren't embarrassed (I think they're still too young for that) and that's what counts.

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