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The Wise Men of Chelm have been absent from Jewish literature for many years. Why? Because nobody has been reporting what has been going on in Chelm. The newspaper went out of business when the decision was made that people reading interferes with social interaction. This ban, put out by the sisterhood, led to many members being accused of elitism as they continued playing Sudoku, and that is arguably a book.
The decision in shul was made that people are not allowed to use Siddurs (prayer books) anymore, as people looking inside interferes with conversation during services. And that is rude.
Generations have passed and the tradition of Chelm remains, with newer, wiser men and women, who have all joined the board of Chelm. I am here to report to you some of the stories that I came across, despite the lack of news coverage.
This is how the Wise Men of Chelm killed the Shabbat services last year, thanks to the decisions of the board. I am not saying they’re unwise. I am just saying that I hope they changed things around since then.
Here are the decisions that led to the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) having to come in to help the community get back on its feet.
A New Door
A gust of wind hit the shul’s door and it was thrown off its hinges. The community did not know what to do, so for safety, they boarded up the entrance, until a decision could be made. That Shabbat, there was no Minyan, as nobody could figure out how to open the boarded up entrance with the shul key.
The maintenance staff said they could fix the door, but the wise men and women of Chelm knew they weren't wise enough for such a job.
The idea to fix the door was brought up to the board. “We should purchase new hinges for the door,” said Yankel. “Oy,” Moishele objected, “He knows nothing. We have to fix a door. And this fool brings up hinges?!” The board was in a panic and had no idea what to do. At that moment, Berel the Gabai raised a fresh idea. “We will buy new doors,” he exclaimed. And all were in awe. “This is why we have a Gabai,” Fayge shouted with joy.
As the group went shopping, they saw many wooden ornate doors of elegance, but every one of them needed to be attached with hinges. Bayla knew these doors could not work. She continued, “We are a shul. We need building doors. Not hinges.” Shaindel agreed, "We already decided against hinges."
A beautiful set of glass doors glistened in the corner of the shop. They were all amazed and drawn to their shine. Rabbi Fishel told the board how great these would look at the entrance to the shul. They all jumped for joy, and reprimanded Yankel, who so foolishly suggested to purchase any hinges. Moishele expressed his delight, “The glass is so beautiful. You can’t even see them.” So, they bought the electric sliding doors.
The next day was Shabbat and the whole community was standing outside. Countless people were gathered outside. One asked the next, “Why is nobody going into shul?” A thought arose in Duvidel’s mind, “We can’t use these doors on Shabbat. That is why no one is going into shul. They’re run electronically. We are not allowed to use electricity on Shabbat.” Berel, the Gabai, was there to help explain, “These are weekday doors. These are not Shabbat doors. We will come back tomorrow and use them when Shabbat is over.”
Chutzpadik Duvidel asked, “Then why don’t we return these doors, so that we can pray in the shul on Shabbat?” “Oy!. You foolish man,” Berel replied, “Then what doors will we use during the week?!” And the decision was made again, to not go to shul on Shabbat.
It was also decided to get iPad prayer books for each seat at shul for Shabbat. That was Shlomo’s idea. As he suggested, “We should get all electric Shabbat items for the shul, as we don’t have to worry about them being used on Shabbat.”
All loved the iPad Siddur idea. Moishele's suggestion that the internet was still social, due to the words 'social media,' was the perfect work around for allowing prayer books back at shul.
The advice of the JDC was to disband the board. Nobody on the board listened to that advice. It came from people who are not wise.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.