I forgot to include in my description of this year's Yom Kippur that during Kol Nidrei I managed to catch my hair (which I was wearing loose for the fast) in the shabbat candles. My mother has been telling me my whole life that if I insist on having long hair I'm going to set it on fire one of these days and I'm most peeved that she was proved right.
No harm was done; before I really figured out why the community were shrieking all of a sudden, a pile of people had jumped on me to smack the flames out. You wouldn't even look at me and say, what on earth have you done to your hair?! I'm glad I didn't get burnt, but given that I wasn't hurt, I'm also extremely glad that my hair was thick enough to keep the flame from damaging my antique silk tallit. My tallit which I only wear on Yom Kippur because it's too fragile and precious to wear regularly.
The only consequences were that I was extremely embarrassed, and my hair smelt quite shockingly sulphurous for most of the rest of the day (since I couldn't wash it until the fast went out either). I have spent far too much of today on pointless bureaucracy. In order to be on the books as a student continuing into my fourth year (though hopefully I won't need anything like the whole year), I had to wander round half the hospital where no-one knew what was supposed to be going on, and eventually got sent into town where I was bounced about a lot between the Registry and the Financial Office. At some point I succeeded in handing over the requisite £60, and hopefully that is sorted.
Anyway, this is mildly annoying but not really journal-worthy. The real problem is that the Evil CD shop of DOOM (aka Groucho's) lies right in my path to get to the university offices. So somehow or other it happened that just as I was going past it (yes, honestly!) I remembered that since I'm spending so much time sitting at my computer these days, I'm getting tired of most of my very small music collection. And before I knew it I had spent £25 on CDs. In my defence it was nine CDs, three of which I actually positively wanted: Alice Cooper's greatest hits, Joy Division: Unknown pleasures (which I loved when I borrowed it from the library), and All About Eve: Scarlet and other stories. Incidentally, all three of those artists I discovered thanks to doseybat's amazing compilation tapes!
And the remaining 6 I probably didn't need, but they were cheap (the three really good ones accounted for more than half the too much money) and they're good to have anyway. I did manage to resist albums by Tori Amos, Puressence and Soundgarden, on the basis that they were not my preferred works by those artists. But still, it's probably best if I stay away from that shop (and from eBay, don't even get me started on the addictiveness and general evil of eBay) in future.
I burned my hair once Much as it's pleasant to have a companion in misfortune, I'm sorry that happened to you! And the smell is quite incredible, isn't it? Even though I knew from biochem lectures what burning hair would smell like and why, I was still taken aback by how pungent it is.
No; as darcydodo says below, I've liked quite a lot of gothy music since I came under doseybat's influence. But I've never been a goth. When I was at college it was generally said that the perfect goth would result from combining me with another girl: I was the 'inside goth' since I enthused about goth music, but was completely detached from the scene, and she was the 'outside goth' since she went about dressed in black lace and had black hair and pale skin, but was actually quite unaware that anything had happened culturally since about 1800 (hence the mode of dress).
If it helps any, most of the crap that I bought because it was cheap was cheesy pop, with a smattering of classical and a Kerrang! compilation.
Heh. If it's doseybat's fault that I like lots of obscure music, it's definitely your fault that I'm a roleplaying geek. (And I'm not the one who has a dedicated polyhedral die icon, though admittedly I do have a roleplaying trophy on my mantelpiece.)
Did you have a cantor sing Kol Nidrei, a cellist play it, or both?
I was working on playing Bruch's Kol Nidrei for cello, but got frustrated with the piece and decided to move on to something else before I got it anywhere close to a performance level of competency. It's a beautiful piece. I'm sure I'll come back to it and work on it again someday when it is less of a technical challenge for me.
In most synagogues, instrumental music is not used in services. There are various reasons for this, some sounder than others. But yeah, the cello thing is completely made up by Bruch (and I personally find it a really inspired artistic decision), you wouldn't find it in actual Jewish worship at all.
One fairly traditional way of doing Kol Nidrei is a solo male voice, which is what we did. Though the guy singing it was not by any stretch of the imagination a cantor; he's just a random person from the congregation, like me, in fact. He's reasonably musical though, even if inexperienced, so it was definitely pleasant to listen to. And he didn't use Bruch's melody; my old synagogue in Cambridge always does and I do have a certain emotional attachment to it.
I'd actually forgotten until I saw this comment that for a lot of people, the phrase Kol Nidrei would have an immediate musical association.
Based on this thread on a cello message board, it looks like there are some synagogues that have (at least this piece of) instrumental music. Can you explain more about why most do not allow it? Is it in violation of the rule against doing work, or using tools on the sabbath? Would it be ok for a non-jew to play an instrument in some synagogues where it would not be ok for a jew to play?
OK, I was confusing in my comment. I meant to say that Bruch probably didn't base his idea of setting the Kol Nidrei prayer for cello on existing synagogue worship. Now that he's come up with the idea, quite a few synagogues have started using it, the minority that don't have a problem with instrumental music.
As for why most don't allow it, like I said, there's a mixture of reasons and some of them aren't very good. It is partly a sabbath thing; playing an instrument isn't a subset of using tools, it's a class of its own. And there's official controversy about whether it's allowed or not. That is to say, there are lots and lots of issues where there's controversy in practice, but everyone is convinced that their way is right. With playing musical instruments, most people agree that it's open to debate. But quite often, when things are open to debate, people end up erring on the safe side.
And then people sort of assume that synagogue stuff only happens on the sabbath, which isn't true, but few people actually take the step of saying, well, the only reason not to play instruments is sabbath observance, so we might as well play them when it's not the sabbath. It's seen as something that isn't a traditional part of Jewish worship.
The other reason, the one I consider really stupid, for not having instrumental music, is that it's thought of as being 'too Christian'. This applies particularly to organ music or guitar music, but it's a fairly prevalent vague distaste that has more or less become a tradition.
As for non-Jews being able to play instruments in synagogues, that's a really difficult one. I don't know of any synagogues where this happens; if they're ok with playing instruments they just do so, and if they're not ok with it in the first place, they're probably the sort of people who would find instrumental music really weird and untraditional, so they wouldn't really want to do it.
Whether it would be ok in theory is hard to answer. In theory you're not supposed to ask non-Jews to do work for you on the sabbath (even though they are, obviously, perfectly allowed to do the work for their own benefit). But there are workrounds; many synagogues employ non-Jews to do things like turn the electricity on and off, but formally, on paper, they're paying these people for something else.
But the music we're talking about is quite tied up with liturgy; it's definitely not acceptable to employ a non-Jewish cantor, for example, because the cantor is partially praying on behalf of the community, and a non-Jew can't do that. So I don't know if playing music which the community were using in a prayer context would work.
When I did my youngest nephew's naming ceremony three years ago I nearly set my hair on fire. It was still fairly long then, and it was down around my shoulders, and we were using a havdalah candle, and, well, yeah. Oops.
Fortunately I noticed and pulled away just in the nick of time... :-)
I nearly set my hair on fire. [...] Fortunately I noticed and pulled away just in the nick of time... :-) Yay for managing not to get burnt. It's the noticing part that gets me, definitely. Maybe I shall start wearing a snood to stop my hair from flying around dangerously!