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I have been part of the community for years and I am just starting to realize what violent people the members are. It started with a kind hello. It was a physical 'Good Shabbis' hello. Then there was Kiddish. People are violent when there is still meat in the choolante. And if there is ever a decent babka, I've learned to protect myself. And I've noticed other violent people in shul. And don't let age deceive you.
Here is violence you should be aware of and watch out for when going to shul.
They Will Hit You to Say Hi
I don't know what it was. He said 'hello' and hit me. He said 'Duvidel' and whack.
He thinks he’s being friendly by hurting me. Being fun by bruising me. I told him, 'Your friendliness injured me. There's no reason to whale on me to say "Shabbat Shalom." I will have a good Shabbis without getting hurt.'
Watch out for being liked. I don’t want to be anybody’s buddy. You get hurt being somebody's buddy. When you're a buddy, they punch you. I started to realize, elbows and kicks are all part of being friendly at shul, when you're their buddy.
Close family can hurt you too. They can get violent when you show up to Simchas and they hug real tight. The caring relatives are more dangerous than buddies. I want to be a distant relative to all people. Show up to the party and people are shocked to see me. It's safer to be the one who people think crashed the party, where they're trying to figure out if they recognize you.
I'm the buddy and the close relative and I'm getting nuggies. They love me and I'm getting hurt. I don't like it.
I thought that's how people say 'hello' now. No. It's how they hurt you.
They've moved away from the handshake and they now give you an elbow. But these older men at shul are attacking me with their elbows. They have no control. I got one elbow to the chest. He wasn't even my buddy.
Approaching the Kiddish table? Be ready. Some congregants get violent when it comes to kichel. The closer you get to the choolante, babka and herring, the more viscous they get. And they claim their spot with their elbows. Watch your eyes too. Fran poked me when I got near the Danish. She felt my presence and was worried that her elbow wouldn't be enough to keep me from the pastries.
The Hand Squeeze
They squeeze real hard. Why they try to hurt me when welcoming me, I don't understand.
There's a lot of ego behind the 'Good Shabbis' handshake. One shake with an older member of the shul lasted three minutes. He wanted me to cower. I held on and didn't give in. There was no 'Good Shabbis' said. We just stared at each other squeezing. Finally, when he let go, we walked away. He gave me a little nod.
After the hand squeeze assault, I saw him walk over to Fran to murmur something. I believe he said, 'We're going to have to watch out for this one at Kiddish. He has a good shake. We're going to have to use our elbows on this one.'
Armrest Elbow Attack
The shared armrest. That's a fight. The guy next to me never looks at me, but he is throwing elbows.
I believe that the members of the shul think that if they don't acknowledge it, it's as if the violence isn't happening.
Ever thought the people in shul were nice? You weren't Bar Mitzvahed. They throw those candies hard. I never thought a Sunkist jelly candy could hurt so much. That's before Reb Shmuli showed up to my Bar Mitzvah. I never did anything to that man. All I know is that he throws hard and has good aim.
It might be an in the moment anger caused by the Bar Mitzvah boy making Davening take an extra forty-five minutes, ruining the people's Shabbis. That's the only reason I can think of for whipping candies at a kid, and causing such pain to a Bar Mitzvah boy who spent half a year trying to get the Torah reading down.
The kids learn their violence from their parents. They see the candy, watch out, they're throwing elbows too. They'll run over seniors. They will tackle a toddler for a Mike and Ike. They'll slide under your seat and trip you if they have to get to a sour stick.
Be it the Bar Mitzvah candies on the floor, or the line for candies at junior congregation, they're violent and they're throwing elbows.
Martial arts has been encouraged in some circles. Some parents have sent their children to MMA so they can get some decent taffy.
And watch out for rubbing people the wrong way. They will get violent if you provoke them. Every member of the shul parks in the disabled parking spot. If I ever tried to take their disabled parking spot, they would run after me and start whaling punches on me.
People have to be less violent when coming together to serve God. Until we can stop the aggression, whatever you do in shul, be sure to protect yourself and watch out for elbows. And don't underestimate how strong Fran is when she sees blurberry Danish.
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