The RCBC (Rabbinical Council of Befuddled Clergy) has declared next Saturday to be "Shabbat Shmoozer" in all Teaneck synagogues.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Rabbi S. A. Rudemanski explained that scholars had pointed out a mistake the rabbis previously made in reading of halakhic texts governing synagogue conduct.
Rudemanski said the rabbis had thought that "talking in synagogue" was the cause of everything from natural disasters and political crises to scraped knees and stubbed toes.
After checking the first edition of the Shulchan Aruch and manuscripts of other prominent works of halakhah and musar, it turns out that a word was dropped in the copying and printing of the codes. The correct reading is that "NOT talking in synagogue" is the culprit for bad things happening all around the world. Conversation in synagogue is essential to the well-being of the world.
Teaneck's Rabbi Y. Gabler was quick to endorse the emended reading. "It makes sense that Jews be encouraged to talk to one another in the synagogue. Too much prayer and too little social conversation is obviously detrimental to the social cohesion of the community and the natural balance of the universe. We've been acting on the wrong reading of the halakhah for so long that in fact, many of my synagogue members have forgotten how to conduct simple conversations."
In accord with the correction, next week will be designated "Shabbat Shmoozer." People attending Teaneck synagogues who are found praying and not engaged in cordial and polite conversation will be "shushed" by ritual shushers who will circulate around the sanctuaries during the synagogue services. There will be no praying allowed and anyone caught davening will be asked to step outside the sanctuary, to return home to engage in that practice by themselves.
Mike Talk, former president of Teaneck's largest shul, said there is a strong move afoot to change his synagogue's name to "Bnai Yes-shmoozin". He observed that members are fed up with the idea that people come to synagogue to daven. You can pray at home by yourself he said. He explained that you don't need to be a sociologist to understand that a shul is the central social venue for families with small children, a vital arena for social networking of middle aged members, and an essential locus for the continued social lifelines of the elderly.
And by the way: Happy Purim!
repost from 2011