The Politics of Passover

Pesach, like most Yom Tovs has some special Shul issues which must be addressed.

Siyum Bechoros
On Erev Pesach first born sons have to fast until around sundown. They are permitted to eat if there is a siyum and many Shuls conduct a siyum for this purpose. The siyum is made for finishing a Mesechta of Gemorra or a Seder of Mishnayos. The Rabbi is usually the first choice, but if he is not finishing a Mesechta, there is a need to find a member or guest to make the siyum. Once the person finishing the Mesachta is chosen, the second issue is how long to make the siyum since Erev Pesach is a busy day. They can run from under five minutes to over twenty minutes.

Hallel at Night
There is a custom to say Hallel the night of Pesach in Shul. When a Shul adopt this custom it delays slightly the time the members will get home. If the Baal Tefillah decides to sing some of Hallel it enhances the davening, but causes a further delay. This is a trade-off faced every Yom Tov Shacharis, but on Pesach night, when we want to start the seder as soon as possible, it creates additional tension.

Shacharis Starting Time
Some Shuls schedule their Shacharis so they always say Shema within the halachically acceptable time. In the New York area this would be between 8:15am and 8:30am. Since people are staying up much later on Pesach night, some shuls make accommodations by starting a little later on the following Shacharis.

Aliyos for Relatives
Every Yom Tov presents challenges for the Gabbaim, but since Pesach is a particularly family oriented time, there tends to be more guests in Shul. The Gabbai tries to honor as many families as possible with aliyos and other appropriate honors. Although a member can overlook his own honors, it’s not so simple when it comes to relatives and in-laws.

In many Shuls, where people are holding by the same standards of kosher, people will eat at other peoples houses. On Pesach, since the standards of Kosher vary more, some people will not eat at other people’s houses at all. The practice of eating at another families house on Pesach is called “Mishing”. It can be a sensitive issue because there is a slight implication that the person’s standard of Kashrus is not trusted.

Pesach is a joyous wonderful time and with a little bit of effort we can accommodate our members and make their Yom Tov shul experience as menaingful and enjoyable as possible.