Cantor’s Voice, Not Cell Phones, Should Ring Out in Shul

By Wendy Belzberg

Published December 05, 2003, issue of December 05, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

What can be done about cell phones ringing during synagogue services? Our shul has a large sign in front of the sanctuary entrance that asks people to turn off their cell phones and pagers, but invariably at least one goes off. I find it grossly rude and disrespectful to be interrupted in this way. I’ve discussed this with the leaders of the shul, but no one seems to have any effective ideas. Do you?

— Overwrought over ringers

If the members of your synagogue cannot monitor themselves, a higher authority will have to step in. I suggest a phone check at the front door — along the same lines as a coat check. All cell phones would be surrendered in exchange for a ticket, with phones returned after services. This is a lesson in group responsibility: If the congregation as a whole must suffer for the sins of the minority, so be it. Either that or offending members should have their phones publicly confiscated when they ring. I think you are likely to agree that the former is the more civilized solution. It may well be that news of these two options is all it takes in a community newsletter to head off the problem.

* * *

Nine years ago I moved my family to Latin America so that my wife could be closer to her parents. My father-in-law promised to set up a business for me, as he had done for my brother-in-law. He did try to help me, but I am an American in a culture that does not look well upon outsiders; no business ever got off the ground. There is another important factor. My 12-year-old son has some learning difficulties and needs a program that is more specialized than the one offered here. He goes for therapy, but I don’t see a tremendous amount of progress. My guess is that he would fare better with professionals in the United States. I would like to return to New York, where I feel my son will have more success and where there are more employment opportunities. My in-laws feel that having family around is important for my wife and son and that this takes precedence over all other factors.

— In a faraway land

I forget: Did you exchange vows with your wife or with her parents? From an objective point of view, I can say without hesitation that you should feel no compunction about moving back to America. Nine years is a long time to try to make a new country and a new job work: You are not a quitter. More importantly, no amount of family support for your son can outweigh the advantages of top-notch therapy. If the professionals are better in the United States, your decision is made for you. Your first responsibility is to your son. Why don’t you sit down with your in-laws and ask them to put his needs first — even before theirs? You have no reason to feel abashed about the fact that your son’s requirements, and your own leanings, happen to coincide. Of course in a perfect world your wife would be inclined in the same direction. You might want to start downloading photos of tempting real estate from the Web.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.