Ask Amy: Couple feel excluded from new congregation

Correction: The article included a letter that used the word “kiddush” to describe a Jewish prayer for the dead. The correct word for that prayer is “kaddish.” The term “kiddush” was correctly used later in the letter to describe a blessing over bread and wine. This version has been corrected.

February 12, 2012

Dear Amy: My mom passed away last year, and according to Jewish custom it’s appropriate to go to temple for 11 months to recite the Kaddish. We are not members of a temple, so my husband and I visited a few before selecting one that appealed to us. We thought we would attend for a while before deciding about joining.

However, after months and months of regular attendance, no one from the congregation ever approached us to introduce themselves or welcome us. The silent treatment continued even after services, as the congregation gathered in a more casual setting to say the kiddush (a less formal blessing) over the wine and bread.

Was it our place to introduce ourselves to the rabbi and members of the congregation? Or are we just to assume that this congregation is not interested in having us as fellow members? — Wondering

I shared your query with Rabbi David Sandmel of Temple Sholom in Chicago. Sandmel and I agree that the only definite assumption to make is that this particular congregation doesn’t quite have its act together in terms of welcoming new members, and your shyness isn’t helping.

Sandmel says, “Most congregations have greeting committees, either formally or informally, and they make a point to introduce a new person around. But in a larger congregation people don’t always know who is new or isn’t new.” We agree that you bear some social responsibility to also make an effort to be friendly.

At this point, Sandmel says it’s time to seek out a clergy member to introduce yourselves and report your experience. “This could be a reality check for the synagogue to improve. If you’ve been going for a while, there must be something you like there, so this is an opportunity to build upon it. It would break the ice for you and it would offer a constructive piece of criticism.”

* * *

Dear Amy: I agree with “Bothered Daughter” that having all the repairs in her house pointed out by her parents is annoying, but she mentioned having a crack in her microwave door.

Depending where the crack is, that could be dangerous. The microwaves are supposed to be inside the appliance, not outside. — Kay

Many readers pointed out that this is potentially dangerous. Maybe “Bothered Daughter’s” parents were trying to alert her to the danger, but she was so bothered she wasn’t paying attention.

* * *

Dear Amy: “Bothered Daughter” is bugged when her folks point out all the repairs needed around her home.

I have the same problem, but I have a response: “Here’s a hammer, here are some nails. Go for it.” Either that stops them in their tracks, or I get some free home repair. — Savvy

Works for me!

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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