Monday, October 4, 2010

Barking at Torah readers?

What I don't know about contemporary Jewish practices could fill a few books. Like who knew that it was customary for people in the synagogue to "bark" corrections to lay readers reading the Torah during worship? In this article, The Competitive Sport of Barking at Torah Readers – The Sisterhood – , Elana Maryles Sztokmans discusses how the difference of the effect of this odd practice on boys and girls.  Boys (as in every other endeaver) are taught to ignore this harassment and continue reading as though they never heard it.  Girls haven't had this training and they end up crying in the bathroom after the experience.

Now I agree with Sztokmans' point that the whole practice of publicly humiliating  your Torah readers should be done away with.  But you know, learning to take public criticism in stride, learning to continue in public without acknowledging rude behavior, not taking everything so damn personally,  NOT dissolving in tears at every single perceived slight is something we need to be teaching little girls (and boys too).   And I don't know that there is a kind and gentle way to teach that.  But probably standing in front of everyone in the synagogue or the church is not the place for it.

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