A long speech and a double-duty Torah reading

Chanting the Torah takes skill and preparation, so traditional synagogues assign someone to chant the weekly biblical portion. Sometimes members take turns, while some synagogues hire a professional. Lion of Zion is one such professional who often writes about the intricacies of the cantillation symbols.

My husband has been chanting, or “leining” as it is known in Yiddish, since before his bar mitzvah. He has prepared every portion at least once and tries to review each week, since he never knows when he will be called on in a pinch.

A few weeks ago he arrived in the synagogue to learn that the neighboring synagogue sought him as a last-minute replacement. My husband declined, as he was scheduled to read in ours. But when the rabbi got up to speak before the Torah reading, my husband decided to check if he was still needed. He asked our son to run and get him as soon as the rabbi finished.

He got to the second synagogue just as they were taking out the Torah scroll. They were glad to see him. I don’t know whether he speeded up his pace or not [he just told me he did], but he returned in time to catch the last twenty minutes of the rabbi’s speech.(*) Fortunately the rabbi has what to say.

(*)Depending on the length of the weekly portion, reading can take 20-40 minutes.


  1. he had time to go read, and still come here 20 minutes of the speech? and I thought my rabbis speeches were long!!!

  2. It takes a good rabbi to deliver fascinating and long speeches.

  3. LOL!

  4. That’s great he was able to manage both.
    But wow, that must have been a long speech.

  5. I found your blog on Blogher…and being that I am not Jewish…I have really enjoyed your posts…and learning a lot more about your religion than any of my Jewish friends have ever told me…

  6. mother in israel says

    RAfi, I-D, TJS: Yes, it was long. My husband complained once, and was told that no one else had complained because they enjoy it so much. But it does make things tight, especially in the winter when the day ends so quickly.
    Noah’s Mommy: Welcome and thanks for coming by. I don’t know your friends, but unfortunately many Jews have not received much Jewish education.

  7. Lion of Zion says

    unfortunately i retired from the professional baalkoriate when i got married, although i lein here and there to fill in or when i feel like it. i miss it a lot. very recently i was offered a job in one of my shuls, but i turned it down because i can’t stand to daven there regularly and i don’t feel like competing with the talkers.
    “He tries to review each week”
    i tried to do this when i first stopped leining regularly, but i didn’t keep up with it
    “since he never knows when he will be called on in a pinch.”
    i’ve been recruited last minute to lein a number of times, including one time in a very hasidic shtiebel (i should really blog about that)
    anyway, i don’t understand about the speech. i though one benefit of living in israel is that shuls don’t have speeches?

  8. mother in israel says

    LOZ, you can still find shuls without speeches. Will look for your post about the shteibel.