I was reading a piece on CNN's site about odd declarations in job interviews (examples: "I have a problem with authority." "You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!" "I've never heard such a stupid question." "What is your company's policy on Monday absences?") and was reminded of something I contemplate every once in a while: Shul What-Ifs.
Over the years, I’ve had a few What-Ifs - unexpected and/or awkward moments, the sort of occurrence you don't expect to happen, and which you need to handle immediately. These include congregant outbursts, kids running amok (moreso than usual, yes), a sefer torah nearly being dropped, a fire alarm being pulled by accident, a cell phone ringing during Shabbos davening, a man seating himself in the women’s section, etc.
Every once in a while, though, I wonder how we would handle something truly unusual. As in:
• During the rabbi’s speech, someone stands up and starts singing the national anthem;
• The chazan for musaf says the repetition of the amidah, word for word, backwards;
• All of the people sitting in an entire section of the shul stand up for the silent amidah – and recite it aloud;
• All of the people sitting in an entire section of the shul stand up for the silent amidah – and turn to face south while reciting it;
• All of the people sitting in an entire section of the shul stand up for the silent amidah – during the Torah reading;
• A sinkhole suddenly opens up under the bimah;
• The rabbi abruptly halts mid-speech, and sits down.
I like to contemplate these cases (especially if the chazan goes on too long… now you know what I’ve been mulling all these years…), and wonder what would happen in my shul in these situations.
What would happen in yours? And what unexpected/awkward circumstances have you witnessed?