Friday, January 27, 2006

I am not a Nebster

So Friday night's I daven at what could be called the frummest minyan in town. I daven there for a couple of reasons:
  1. Most Friday night's I eat at my in-laws (shver and shvigger in Yiddish, damn shvigger is a great word), and this minyan is right around the corner.
  2. They have a nice davening
  3. The rabbi is a brilliant halachic mind and I like his Friday night halacha shiurim (as opposed to his Shabbos morning mussar shmuzzin)
  4. There's no talking and they don't emphasize Ameinei Chatufos

I like the minyan, but I clearly don't fit in there. I would say that out of 125 people there on a Friday night, there are 10 non-black hats. However, I am the only one ever in the entire minyan that doesn't wear a suit. No need to go into why, I just don't; not my thing. Anyway, needless to say that the dress slacks, banana republic shirt, black sruga and Naot's stick out.

What baffles me is that, despite my weekly attendance, nobody (aside from a few people that I know) recognizes me. Imagine a white guy in a room full of black's....they stick out. I am the white guy and they are the black doesn't make sense that they don't recognize me. Without a doubt, EVERY Shabbos someone will either a) ask where I am from b) ask where I live c) what brings me to this shul or d) do I need a meal. It doesn't cross their mind that a/b) I live in the same apartment complex as them, c) what brings me to this shul is the same thing that brings them to shul, to daven and d) I'm not a neb and I don't need a meal. I usually find a way to tell them that I'm married and baffle them even further.

The point here is don't look at someone (that freaking davens there every week!) and assume because they're dressed un-penguinesque they need a Shabbos meal, or that they need a good reason for davening at the shul. What baffles them even further is when I bring a sefer like the Aruch haShulchan or Sifsei Chaim - the astonishment that I can actually read and understand Hebrew, all while wearing Naots, makes me laugh everytime.

No, I don't wear a suit on Shabbos. Yes, I can read Hebrew. And for the love of Gd, no, I don't need a meal.


Anonymous peninah said...

BTW, I think the word "nebby" can only be used as an adjective, not a noun. The correct use would be, I'm not a neb. OK. this post shows I am a neb but whatever.

11:51 AM, January 27, 2006

Anonymous Greg said...

Seriously, I think you need to ask yourself how much of this is in your head and how much of it is real.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 was awesome. Do you have Vol. 2?

12:53 PM, January 27, 2006

Blogger Lanie said...

I don't think that the shul that you're talking about would win the prize for "frummiest minyan in town." Perhaps, "Frummiest Minyan below Cross Country Blvd." Apparently there is a whole other world across Park Heights Avenue.

12:57 PM, January 27, 2006

Blogger Jewboy said...

Who needs meals when you've got the Rechtands?

1:49 PM, January 27, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


While I work with schizophrenics, and I do find myself talking to myself more, I do not think I've reached the point of auditory hallucinations. Therefore, when I daven there and someone asks me "do you need a meal", at this point, I do actually believe that person is talking to me, as opposed to a voice in my head talking to me.


3:18 PM, January 27, 2006

Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

reminds me of the 'far side' cartoon which shows two grizzly bears eating a
seal while surrounded by polar bears -- the caption: "Don't eat the flippers,
Zeke or they'll know we're tourists."

7:01 PM, January 28, 2006

Anonymous yaakov said...

Just happened upon your blog. Pretty cool. Maybe the answer to your question is you don't stand out as much as you think. Maybe they look past your external trappings and simply see another frum jew. Whatever, it was worth a shot :-)

2:06 PM, January 31, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


Good thought. Highly unlikely, however.

2:10 PM, January 31, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe how negative you come across in your postings and this one takes the cake. Let me ask a question. Has the same "penguin" asked you each shabbos the questions that offend you so much? How many names of the people who daven there on a regular basis do you know? How many have you invited over or introduced yourself to? Since you are a regular on Friday night, have you invited anybody or do you just assume that everybody is as put together as you and has a meal and a place to go?

9:26 PM, January 31, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Dear Penguin (oops, I mean anonymous),

I welcome your comments to my blog. Knowing your identity would make it much more fun, however. Anyway, you bring up interesting points. Asking someone at the end of shul is, at least to me, a bit degrading. This isn't yeshiva in Israel where yeshiva guys often wait until Friday night davening to find a meal.

I say "good shabbos" and shake hands with everyone that I pass, so I don't want you to think that I do not extend common courtesies. And I know about 20 people there by name, for the record.

How many people from this shul have I invited to a Friday night meal at the end of davening? None. Why? Because it is rude. With a wife in medical school and myself working, we have still yet to have over all of my close friends, let alone randoms from this shul.

Next time you see the guy walking in to your shul that looks a little different, don't assume he needs a meal or he can't read hebrew.

Reveal yourself anonymous, reveal yourself.

9:58 PM, January 31, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but I know you and like you so I feel bad about being critical but I think you have to have faith in people. As a shy single guy (who did wear the penguin suit) I would have loved to be invited for Shabbos meals, maybe I should have worn what you wear because there were many time I went home Firday night and Shabbat day with no where to eat, just me, matzah and a can of tuna. Sounds to me like you go to a friendly shul where people want to reach out. Ok there are a couple of winners out there who are too stupid but you sound like you condemn the whole place with your generalizations and like i said, i wish people had invited me and despite your warning, I invite strangers now. Guess what, someone even came 1 time and it was great. Loosen your collar and relax a bit and see the good in people and ignore the stupid ones.

12:36 PM, February 01, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


Thanks for your comments, please see my upcoming post.

9:23 PM, February 01, 2006

Blogger Jack Davidov said...

I don't think that this phenomenon is restricted to yeshivish people. It's definitely a universal, frum thing for people to only see things in their own little circle. I used to go to yeshiva in a very modern community.

When I started working and I davened in the shul, not the yeshiva, it was as if people had never seen me before. They asked me if I was new to the community. I would tell them that I had lived there for over three years!

Modern people associate with modern people, yeshivish people associate with yeshivish people.

Ironically, the community viewed the yeshiva like it was some sort of mini Lakewood, when in fact, it was more like a mini YU.

10:45 AM, February 02, 2006


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