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!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • 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.