Yom Tovim in Shul – Of Guests and Gabbaim

Yom Tovim are wonderful times for Shuls. In Eretz Yisroel, 3 of the 7 days were major davening days, while in Chutz L’Aretz 5 of the 8 days were major davening days this year.

The major issue is accommodating the many guests. Of course the always present seating issue arises. Most people will gladly give up there makom kavua for a given tefilla, and giving it up for a week presents an increased opportunity to display selflessness. In my observations, people are usually up to the challenge, and it can be made even easier if the host families strongly and sincerely express their thanks for the accommodation.

Watching the Gabbai try to accommodate kibbudim for all the guests is a sight to behold. Most people are happy when their father, brother, son and in-law variations get an aliyah or other honor, and it’s the Gabbai’s job to make as many people as happy as possible. In addition the Gabbai has to get many Baalei Tefillah, trying to match Shul member preferences with personal styles.

The Krias HaTorah line up has to be selected, and due to the shorter leining length, more younger members want to try their hand at kriah. Usually it works out, but when somebody is not so prepared, or a little nervous, it can be awkward for both the leiner and the listeners.

The last accommodation is for Shiurim. Sons and sons-in-laws learning in Yeshiva are home for the holiday and it’s a great opportunity for them to prepare and deliver a shiur to the Shul. It’s also an opportunity for members to hear different styles of shiurim and for fathers and father-in-laws to shep a little nachas.

Shuls are front and center during the Yom Tovim and it’s an added delight when our extended families can enhance the learning and davening.