Beware, shul shushers &mdash Ive got your number

Bangitout.com, the humor site for Modern Orthodox hipsters, recently published a list of the “Top Ten Most Annoying People in Synagogue.” I posted it at my blog, then added a few of my own. Then I heard from readers.

By the time we were done, I was left wondering if there is anybody in synagogue who isn’t annoying (besides me, of course). I offer the results here and urge scholars to tease out the deeper meanings. (A note for the easily offended: When I write “guy” below, I mean it in the sense of “men and women who are annoying.” And when I write “annoying,” I mean to say “differently agreeable.”)

First, here’s a few from the Bangitout list:

• The gabbai who condescendingly corrects the Torah reader on words he says incorrectly — and correctly.

• The parent who decides it’s better not to take his hysterical crying kids out of shul lest they miss a word of the Torah reading.

• The Shusher.

• The guy whose seat you are sitting in, who must make a huge public scene to ensure that you and the rest of the shul know it.

Here are some of mine:

• The guy (or gal) who insists on harmonizing with the “Amens.” (That’s me.)

• The person who namedrops during the prayer for the sick — you know, when the rabbi asks for congregants to call out the name of their ailing loved ones, and the guy says “Edward M. Kennedy” to remind you that he once worked on the campaign in 1974.

• The non-Jewish bar mitzvah guest who sits politely for the entire three-hour service, shaming you for fidgeting and checking your watch every 10 minutes.

Then readers chimed in:

• The synagogue officer who reads the list of upcoming events extending into 2012 — as if anyone is sitting in the pews entering appointments in his Blackberry.

• The guy in the pews who is entering appointments in his Blackberry.

• The sermonizer who never heard of the expression “to make a long story short.”

• The sermonizer who says “in conclusion,” and then goes on for another 10 minutes.

• The sermonizer.

A rabbi sent a few:

• The congregant who has never come to a single adult ed class and then complains that the service has “too much Hebrew.”

• At board meetings, the trustee who says, “I was about to say the same thing as Jack” — and then goes on to say exactly the same thing.

Cantors and ba’alei tefillah (prayer leaders) were a common theme:

• The cantor who introduces the “Adon Olam” melody based on the 12-tone scale.

• The cantor who sings slower than seems humanly possible — then repeats words!

• The chazzan who gets to the “Ve’ne’emar” at the end of Aleinu faster than is humanly possible.

The service may end, but the aggravation doesn’t:

• At Kiddush, the folks who pile up their plates — and refuse to step away from the buffet table as they eat.

• The kids who fill their plates with the best fish and spreads and that last chocolate-covered strawberry, take one bite and leave the rest.

• The flimsy paper plates that can’t hold even a marshmallow, let alone a slab of kugel. (Technically, this is not an annoying person, but it is still very, very annoying.)

Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor in chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, where this column previously appeared.

Andrew Silow-Carroll

Andrew Silow-Carroll is the editor in chief of The New York Jewish Week and senior editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He was previously the editor in chief of JTA from 2016 to 2019. He also served as editor in chief and CEO of the New Jersey Jewish News and wrote an award-winning weekly column in the Times of Israel. He was also the managing editor of the Forward newspaper, editor of the Washington Jewish Week and senior editor of Moment magazine.