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Note: This post is not child related. You’ve been warned.

Oof. For someone who prides herself on being brought up (somewhat) right and knowing the rules for social decorum, I sure know how to stick my foot in it.

A few weeks ago, I was notified by a friend that one of the Lost Boys in Louisville, Akech “Gabriel” Kwai, had been invited to speak at Adath Jeshurun’s selicha service. [off topic: my spell checker just went nuts on that last sentence!] This was, I presumed, a fabulous opportunity to raise awareness and money for our organization, the Sudanese Refugee Education Fund.

I wasn’t really sure what selicha was, but as the word means “sorry” and “sorry” comes up a lot at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I figured selicha was some sort of modern, new-fangled, and quite possibly hippy-dippy addition to the High Holy Day liturgy. Because, you know, 4-5 hours for each day of Rosh Hashana, 3-4 hours for Kol Nidre, and ohmygodwilliteverend? 10 (ten!) hours for Yom Kippur may not be enough for someone out there.

But who was I to complain? A Lost Boy was going to speak at a synagogue in Louisville right around the holidays, tell his amazing story, and, I sincerely hoped, open some wallets. Best of all, this fundraiser wasn’t going to cost our organization a dime. I was fired up!

So fired up, that I decided to look into cross-promotion at my family’s synagogue, Keneseth Israel. So what if they are somewhat at odds with each other? So what if they discussed merging last year and the talks broke down with a fair bit of acrimony on both sides? There was a higher purpose here, people, and I was determined to pursue it.

The perfect opportunity arose at my friend Sharon’s birthday party. Sharon is the cantor at Keneseth Israel, and the rabbi dropped by to offer her birthday wishes. In my infinite wisdom, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to introduce myself (we pass each by at preschool and family events all the time, but have never really “met”) and go for it.

“Hi Rabbi. So nice to meet you… blah, blah, blah, this year’s bulletin sure was funny, blah, blah, blah, did you know I’m Dave Kahn’s niece? blah, blah, blah….

Now that the stage was set, it was time to move in for the kill.

…. Hey, Rabbi. How about if I post a flier on the bulletin board at Keneseth for this really cool selicha program at Adath Jeshurun helping support Lost Boys in college? Would that be cool?”

At this point I would like to say that the rabbi was nicer-way nicer-than I had any right to expect. Because it turns out that selicha is standard service that every synagogue holds at the same day at the same time. How I missed its existence in my gazillion years of education I know not. (Actually, I’m blaming my mother.) But what I did, in essence, was ambush a rabbi at a social event to ask if I could post a flier for the competition’s service. This gaffe is akin to asking the minister at, say, First Methodist if it would be OK for me to advertise the Christmas Eve service being held at First Presbyterian on their board.

Just wrong in about eight different ways. For the record, the rabbi was equally kind and gracious when I sent my much needed apology letter. The moral of the story is twofold:

  • 1. Make sure you are as smart as you think you are before opening your mouth;
  • 2. If you have to be inadvertently obnoxious, try to find a target that gets paid to be understanding.

3 Responses to “Obtuseness in the Line of Duty”

  1. Amanda says:

    Oops! Well at least you picked the right person, lol. I’m sure he’s had far worse gaffes in his days as rabbi, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  2. goldsteinrita says:

    That’s OK. Just blame Mom. Mother’s can take it and god knows you are going to find that out first hand now that you are one.

  3. blg says:

    **Love** this lesson:
    If you have to be inadvertently obnoxious, try to find a target that gets paid to be understanding.

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