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August 21, 2016 / conservadox

Two Washington Heights shuls

In the morning I went to KAJ, the old German shul in Wash Hts which presumably started as modern Orthodox in the S.R. Hirsch tradition.  Today it felt like a cross between black hat Yeshivish and Spanish/Portuguese.

Like the latter, felt very formal, a lot of slow singing.

Like the former, 2/3 of the guys wore black hats.  Many of the rest wore light summer hats, which is common in the two Spanish/Portuguese shuls I know best (Shearith Israel in Manhattan, Mikveh Israel in Philly).

No sermon (rabbi out of town maybe?), no kiddush (first time I have ever seen THAT in Manhattan).  Not friendly.

One guy asked if I had a place to eat, then said he was full but would look for someone.  He told me to go to a little talk on the Torah portion in a nearby room, which I did.  (I wonder if he expected someone in that room to offer me a meal).  When the talk ended, the man had disappeared and no one asked me out.  I wondered what to do.  I decided to go home since (a) I had food at home (since I don’t really expect hospitality in Manhattan) and (b) I figured if I disappeared and the man reappeared, he would think that I had been offered a place and feel good that he had helped facilitate this.

There were about 30 guys, which didn’t seem like a lot for the size of the building.

By contrast, for mincha, Seudah Shlichit and havdalah I went to Mt. Sinai Jewish Center across the street.  Much bigger (50 guys), much younger (about 80 percent seemed under 40), nice third meal if you like sugar (count me in!) .  Surprisingly friendly, I got into some conversations of not much importance.

I wonder why KAJ seems to be doing so much worse than Mt. Sinai.  Maybe Washington Heights just can’t compete with the outer boroughs for black hat types- not as safe, not much more convenient perhaps?

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