Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rabbi Kanefsky and “…shelo asani isha

By Susan Esther Barnes

Earlier this month, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky published an article in which he explained why he doesn’t say the prayer that ends “shelo asani isha,” thereby initiating a flurry of discussion in the Jewish Orthodox blogging community. (I’d link to the post, but it appears to have been removed, and replaced with “A Calmer and Fuller Articulation.”)

This prayer may be unfamiliar to Reform Jewish people, since it has been omitted from the Reform prayer book. The prayer is/was part of the recitation of every day blessings, and in it the person praying thanks God for “not making me a woman.”

The bloggers who disagree with Rabbi Kanefsky include the usual arguments claiming that Orthodox practice has not changed for thousands of years (which is patently false), and that anyone who questions current practice must not really be Orthodox.

But others, including thoughtful people on Dov Bear’s blog, claim that we should continue to say this blessing because, regardless of what its intention was when it was first written, these days “almost everyone” interprets this prayer in a benign fashion.

So what do they mean by benign? First, there’s the argument that the men are required to do the time-bound mitzvot (commandments), and women are not, so what the men are doing when they say this prayer is thanking God that they get to do more commandments, and thus get a greater reward. This explanation, of course, furthers the idea that men are rewarded more than women are, which I don’t see as benign.

One reason given for why women aren’t required to do as many commandments as the men is that the women are somehow spiritually superior to the men. On the surface that’s a nice-sounding argument, but it doesn’t make any sense for a man to thank God for making him spiritually inferior.

Dov Bear himself said it makes sense to say this prayer because, “Being an Orthodox Jewish woman sucks.” As one commentor elaborated, “I'm damn thankful I'm not a woman. Who wants to get paid less for the same job? Who wants a bunch of men telling you how you're supposed to dress and how you're supposed to cover your hair? Who wants to have every intimate detail of your personal life on display and up for inspection by a man? The list goes on and on, but there's only so much time in the day.” This is benign?

Another reason given for not removing this prayer from Orthodox prayer books is that doing so won’t change the mind of misogynists anyway, so what’s the point? Well, the point is that by leaving it in, every day Orthodox Jews are reminded that the prayer book, and thus Judaism, apparently supports the idea that being a man is better than being woman. Thus, the prayer is an institutionalization of the idea that women are inferior to men. The removal of the prayer would be the removal of the endorsement of this idea by the establishment.

Although removing the prayer, by itself, will not solve the problem, the longer the institution of Judaism endorses prayers that promote the idea that women are inferior, the harder it will be to change the attitudes of Jewish misogynists. That is the point.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Every College Student Should Have to Do

By Susan Esther Barnes

Every 3 or 4 months or so, we hold a “Fun Day” at work. We go to a baseball game, or play miniature golf, or do something else together just for fun. It struck me as an odd activity for an office full of liberal democratic types, but this week for Fun Day we went to a shooting range.

This activity reminded me of an essay I had to write in college. The assignments was to start an essay with the words, “Every college student should have to” and then finish the sentence and explain why we should all have to do whatever we chose for the conclusion of the sentence. I chose, “Every college student should have to learn how to handle and fire a rifle.”

I suspect part of my reason for choosing this subject was my desire to stand out. I wanted to pick something different than what I suspected everyone else would choose. I wanted to be unique; I wanted to be daring.

(As an aside, my professor read a few of the essays in class for discussion, without saying who wrote them, and he chose mine as one of them. I found it telling that, throughout the entire discussion, the class always referred to the author as “he,” never once considering that it may have been written by a woman.)

Part of the reason I chose that topic, though, was I believed in it. I still do. A lot of people are scared of firearms, and wouldn’t know how to handle one safely if they came across one unexpectedly. At an early age I was aware of basic gun safety rules: How to properly hold a gun, to always point it at the ground or in the air when not aiming at a target, to keep my finger off the trigger until I was ready to shoot, etc.

All of these skills, and a general comfort around guns, could come in very handy if one were to come across a firearm unexpectedly, as I did once. In fact, this kind of knowledge could save a life.

And what of the experience at the shooting range? The photo at the top of this post was my target. The grouping isn’t as tight as I would have liked, but with over 30 years having passed since the last time I shot a firearm, and with this being only the second time I had ever held a pistol, I was pleased that everything was within the black portion of the bullseye.

I was a bit disconcerted when my shooting partner kept saying, “He’s dead.” When I was shooting, I wasn’t contemplating shooting a living creature, and I certainly was not thinking about killing anything or anyone. In fact, although other people used targets in the shape of a person, I avoided those on purpose. This was target practice, nothing more.

At any rate, it’s good to know I have some firearm skills, even though I hope I’ll never have to use them. I’d rather be knowledgeable and safe than ignorant and sorry.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glossary for People New to Orthodox Jewish Blogs

By Susan Esther Barnes

A couple of years ago, when I started blogging, I also starting reading other blogs, including Jewish blogs in particular. This turned out to be my first real chance to hobnob with Orthodox Jews, but I ran into the following problem: Sometimes, it seemed like they were speaking a whole different language!

Part of the time, that’s because they’re using Yiddish or Hebrew words, or, I suppose, even quoting something in Aramaic. Sometimes they’re using abbreviations. So for others who may be starting on the worthwhile adventure of reading Orthodox blogs, below are some definitions that may help you make sense of them.

Please note that this isn’t a definitive list of Jewish terms. Rather, it’s a list of terms used on Orthodox Jewish blogs that people otherwise familiar with common Hebrew and Jewish terms might not recognize.

This is an abbreviation for Ba’al Tshuva. Tshuva means “return.” A BT is a Jewish person who either was not raised Orthodox or left Orthodoxy, and then either became Orthodox or returned to Orthodox practice. Thus, even someone who was never Orthodox before is considered to have “returned.”

This is an abbreviation for “Frum From Birth.” Frum is a Yiddish word meaning “devout.” Someone is FFB if they were born an Orthodox Jew and never left Orthodoxy, and it is used to distinguish them from BTs (above).

This is a Yiddish word meaning “devout,” but it is only used when referring to Orthodox Jews. Orthodox Jews will sometimes refer to other Orthodox Jews as being more or less frum depending on their perceived level of observance, but if you are not Orthodox or are a devout Gentile you will not be referred to as frum.

In Hebrew, gadol means “big.” When used with a capital “G” and/or when used as a noun rather than an adjective, it means a well-respected (male) rabbi, whose rulings are considered to be more worthy of following than the rulings of a “lesser” rabbi, who presumably isn’t as learned as a Gadol. “Gadol” is not a title that is officially bestowed on a rabbi, so there is some disagreement regarding which rabbis deserve to be called a Gadol.

A kofer is an unbeliever. This word is used as an insult, and refers to someone who is rejecting Judaism’s teachings. It is generally used by one Jew against another when a person expresses an opinion not endorsed by Orthodoxy in general or by that particular writer. A person who is not Jewish or who is not very educated in Judaism is generally not considered to be a kofer because they haven’t learned enough about Judaism to actually reject its teachings.

One of the early roles of rabbis, before they became as involved as they are now in pastoral roles, was to rule on matters of Jewish law for the Jewish laypeople. Rabbis have retained this role in the Orthodox world more than they have outside it. Your Posek is the rabbi you go to in order to obtain a rabbinic ruling in regard to (or to answer a question about) the law (halacha). Pasken is the verb form: to make a ruling on the law.

A shidduch is a romantic match between two people, for the purpose of marriage.

Shidduch Crisis:
Because men and women are so often kept separate from each other in the Orthodox world (in some branches of Orthodoxy, unrelated men and women are not even supposed to talk to each other), many Orthodox singles rely on matchmakers. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this system isn’t working well for many people, leaving many singles feeling like they have little chance of ever finding a proper match. This problem is referred to as the “shidduch crisis.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Choosing an Etrog Set Ain't Easy

By Susan Esther Barnes

Sukkot – the Jewish festival of the booths – doesn’t start until the evening of October 12, but already I’m seeing ads online for Etrog sets – the packages you can get with the four species required as part of the Sukkot holiday rituals.

The idea is, you get an etrog (a citrus fruit much like a lemon), a palm frond, a willow tree branch (with leaves) and a myrtle tree branch (with leaves). You hold them in your hands, wave them, and recite the appropriate blessings.

Presumably, if you live in Israel, the four necessary components would be pretty easy to get. It’s all stuff that naturally grows there (or did at one time – apparently when Israel was founded there weren’t a lot of etrog orchards left, but more have been planted since then).

There are some etrog orchards in the United States, but even if they could grow enough of the fruit to meet the demand of the entire North American Jewish market, many people prefer to support the State of Israel by buying their Etrog sets from there. Luckily for us in the diaspora, there are several websites to help us in this endeavor.

One might think that buying an Etrog set would be fairly straightforward, like buying many commodities online. Search a few websites that sell the item, check prices as well as shipping and handling charges, and buy from the one that offers the goods at the cheapest price without looking too dodgy.

A quick search, however, reveals prices anywhere from $35 to $129.99 (if you don’t count the cute but not kosher plushie set that sells for about $15). Yet the photos for all the sets on most sites, from the cheapest to the most expensive, is all the same photo. What’s up with that?

Well, you see, you could do the shaking of the four species using the cheapest kosher set available (you could even grow and pick your own for free), and you would be fulfilling the miztzvah (commandment).

But there’s this notion of “hiddur mitzvah,” which means “beautifying the commandment.” Rather than just doing the mitzvah, you can go the extra mile to do it in a more beautiful way, by having a more beautiful etrog, or a straighter palm frond, or more or fresher branches, etc.

So sure, you can get the basic set, but if you have extra cash to spend, you can trade up and pay 3 or 4 times as much, or more, to make it more beautiful. And I kind of understand that. Still, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder, “How much did the ancient merchant’s guild have to pay to get that stuff added to the halacha (Jewish law) so they could make more money?”

I mean, really, who needs all this pressure to trade up for some fancier flora to wave around before it dies? Ok, so don’t insult God by using old, wilted, moldy branches and leaves, but all the components are God’s creations. It’s all good. Just buy the cheap set and, if you’re feeling guilty, donate the difference in cost to your local food bank. That would be a real hiddur mitzvah.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"What I Can't Seem to Forgive" on TC Jewfolk

Head on over to TC Jewfolk to see my latest post there, called "What I Can't Seem to Forgive."

Make a comment. Share it with friends. Think about any relationships you need to mend before Yom Kippur rolls around. Then go do it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Critter of Interest

By Susan Esther Barnes

I am not making any specific accusations, and I certainly wouldn't call the buck pictured above a "suspect" in the incident I wrote about here.

However, I did see the above creature wandering around near my home with his buddy, munching on various plants.

For the time being, let's just call him a "critter of interest" and leave it at that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Don't Hate the Person - I Just Hate Their Actions

By Susan Esther Barnes

It’s a refrain I’ve often heard said about people in the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer (LBGTQ) community, and I’ve also heard it used in reference to non-Orthodox Jews by the Orthodox. Hate the person’s actions, but not the person. I’m not sure this is actually possible.

Judaism teaches that our thoughts and intentions are not as important as our actions. The person who sits at home and thinks about how much he loves everyone in the world is not doing a mitzvah, but the person who thinks homeless people are vermin but gives them money anyway is doing one.

On one hand, our actions help to shape our thoughts, and therefore can change who we are. The person sitting home alone is not interacting with others in the world, and is learning nothing new. The person out giving money to the homeless on the street is interacting with them, in some small way. Maybe, over time, these interactions will help them to see the other person as more human. Maybe they will start to look at the causes of homelessness and see it is often not the homeless person’s fault that they are now in this position.

Na’aseh v’nishma” the Torah says (Exodus 24:7), “we will do and we will see (or understand).” First we do, and in the act of doing we change how we see things; we change our understanding of how the world works, and therefore we change who we are inside. Our actions and our selves are bound up together in a way that they cannot be separated entirely.

So how can we say we hate the actions of someone, and claim that in no way do we hate the person him- or herself? Hate is a complete rejection of a thing or a person. It leaves no room for understanding or compassion. It is black and white, leaving no room for grey.

What if, instead, I merely disapprove of that person’s actions? What if I remind myself that no mentally stable person wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m going to do something hateful today”? If the person ends up doing something hateful, there must be a reason for it. Something that overcame their intentions.

Perhaps the best place to start, then, rather than hate for the action, is to try to understand what caused that person to take that action. What was their intention? Do they recognize that what they did was wrong? What are they willing to do to make t’shuvah, to try to return to the correct path? What are you doing to help them? These are questions that come from love and compassion, not from hate.

I suspect the notion of “I hate the action, but not the person” stems from the Ghandi quote, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Another problem I have with this sentiment, and how it’s being applied, is that we don’t all agree on what is or isn’t sinful.

It is quite clear to me, for instance, that loving another human being and expressing that love in a committed relationship is not a sin. It is equally clear to me that loving God and expressing that love in a way that honors Judaism’s tradition and thousands-of-years-old track record of changing with the times is also not a sin. Therefore, being a member of the LBGTQ community, and/or being a non-Orthodox Jew is not a sin, and acting in ways consistent with either or both of those identities is not a sin.

But when someone tells a person that living in a committed relationship with someone of the same gender is a sin, or when they tell them that failing to keep separate sets of dishes at home is a sin, they are doing more than rejecting a specific action. They are negating the way of life of that person. They are saying that who that person is, as a person, is unacceptable. They may claim that only the actions themselves are hated, and not the person, but the two are inseparable.

Elohai neshama shenatata bi t’hora hi – the soul that God has given me is pure.” To claim that another person must suppress their neshama and act in a way that is contrary to the pure soul that God gave them is to do violence to that soul. I do not see how you can hate the pure, loving expression of a person’s soul and truthfully claim you do not hate who that person is, as a person.

So if you hate the soul that God gave me, if you hate the only honest way I have of expressing that soul, then you hate me. My actions are the only way I have to express who I truly am. Don’t try to make yourself feel better by claiming it is only my actions you hate. When you hate the actions that express who I am, then you hate me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Haveil Havalim #325

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack.

Opinions expressed in the posts linked below are those of the respective bloggers and not necessarily endorsed by me.

Allison Josephs presents The S&P Downgrade and Tisha B’Av: A Spiritual Lesson From a Day of Calamity | Jew In The City posted at Jew in the City.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver presents The transformational power of Torah posted at A Chassidishe farbrengen.

Get your fix of all things Israel as faithful HH participant Joel Katz presents Religion and State in Israel - August 8, 2011 (Section 1) and Religion and State in Israel - August 8, 2011 (Section 2) posted at Religion and State in Israel.

Sharon A takes us on a lovely photo tour of Jerusalem's old city on the night of Tisha B'Av in After the Fasts posted at The Real Jerusalem Streets's Blog.

Temple Mount Updates presents Over 500 Jews make pilgrimage to the Temple Mount on 9th of Av; Arabs attack posted at Temple Mount Updates.

Tomer Devorah writes about some of Glenn Beck's activities in Israel, and in the second post says it's an abomination but doesn't say how, in "8/24" and An Abomination posted at TOMER DEVORAH.

Hey Israeli sports fans! Harry has some good news in NBA players lining up to play in Israel posted at ISRAELITY.

Harry contmplates joining the recent Israeli protests but decides to participate later in From the tents to the Israeli street posted at ISRAELITY.

Julie reviews a playground in The Lifschitz Street Park -- Jerusalem Playground Reviews, pt. 2 posted at Walkable Jerusalem.

Mirjam Weiss urges you to make aliyah in Can You Hear Me Calling? posted at Miriyummy.

Esser Agaroth says he's against the current Israeli social justice protests in The Agenda Within The Tents posted at Esser Agaroth.

Apparently the US isn't the only place where people on the right claim the media is controlled by people on the left, as you can see as Batya presents The True Reason for the Leftist Media-Supported Anti-Government Demonstrations posted at Shiloh Musings.

Batya has more negative things to say about the Israeli protesters in Re: The Korach Protests on the Streets of Israel posted at Shiloh Musings.

Esser Agaroth presents Expulsion From Azza, Sixth Anniversary: Who Was To Blame? posted at Esser Agaroth.

Tomer Devorah discusses a retraction she believes wasn't really a retraction in Where's the Retraction? posted at TOMER DEVORAH.

I think of the word God as a "job description" more than as a name, but others such as Mordechai Torczyner hold a different view, and I can't say he's wrong. Make up your own mind after you read In the Name of Gd posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

Learn some new Heblish expressions from Mrs. S. in Heblish: As The Laundry Spins Edition posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress.

View some truly lovely photos as Harry presents Foto Friday – Natural Beauty with Eddie Friedman posted at ISRAELITY.

Rickismom tells us of a man who's finding balance in his life in The "Fanatic" and the Fan posted at Beneath the Wings.

Friar Yid presents Making Connections posted at Friar Yid.

In a post about how he thinks the feelings of Orthodox Jews about non-Orthodox Jews is not "baseless hatred," Esser Agaroth presents Did Baseless Hatred Really Destroy The Temple? posted at Esser Agaroth.

Daniela reviews a couple of snack foods in Loacker's Quadratini Vanilla Wafers and Meir Bagel's Flat Pretzels "Shtuchaleh" posted at Isreview.

I write about overreaction in The Benefits of Overreaction at To Kiss a Mezuzah.

Learn how Batya first discovered Tisha B'Av in And What's This Jewish Tisha B'Av "Holiday"? posted at Shiloh Musings.

rutimizrachi presents "Simple pleasures are the best." posted at Ki Yachol Nuchal!.

Rivki presents New series: Women Who Inspire Us posted at Life in the Married Lane.

As a follow-up to the above post, Rivki presents Women Who Inspire Us #1: Maxine Clark posted at Life in the Married Lane.

How you can participate:
You may submit your blog post for the next edition of Haveil Havalim by using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Benefits of Overreaction

Words by Susan Esther Barnes
Photo by Alan Schweigert

We all have mental images of ourselves, ways that we define ourselves and our actions. “I’m artistic,” “I’m logical,” “I have a good sense of humor,” etc.

One of the things I tell people about myself is that I tend to overreact to things. Until recently, I thought that was a bad thing, but recently I have reconsidered.

It’s true that sometimes my tendency to overreact can get in my way. Sometimes, I am so surprised and dismayed by something that it seems my mind has ceased to function. My head is filled with white noise, and I, who revels in the use of words, feel incapable of forming any coherent thoughts, let alone translating those thoughts into phrases or sentences that anyone can understand.

This issue used to be a common problem for me in my first marriage. My (then) husband would say something (usually it would be something critical of me, or something threatening our relationship), and then would follow it up 5 or 10 seconds later with something along the lines of, “Why are you just sitting there? Say something!”

The truth is, when I am upset or very surprised, there is a nonverbal internal process that needs to take place before I can do anything else. The amount of time this process takes varies depending on the situation. If the surprise is bad enough, during the initial few seconds I am literally incapable of forming words in my head, let alone choosing which ones to express. My ex-husband never understood this.

Another one of my charming tendencies is that if I am hurt and/or uncomfortable, I want everyone else around me to feel hurt and uncomfortable, too. When I was younger, this led to me saying things that I very quickly came to regret.

So the next thing that happens, once I am capable of speech again, is I have to examine my feelings. Am I angry? Do I want to hurt the other person right now? If so, then I need to consider very carefully what I am about to say, because I don’t want to say something I’m likely to regret. This evaluation can lead to an even longer period of silence.

Over time, I have learned that this is a good time to say something like, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble thinking right now,” in order to clue in the other person about why I’m just frozen there with a blank look on my face.

All of this requires a good amount of patience and understanding from the other person. If they’re going to be around me a lot, they’re going to run into this behavior from time to time. And, because it drove my ex-husband so buggy, for a long time I thought of this as a bad thing.

It has recently occurred to me, however, that these overreactions of mine have a couple of distinct advantages.

First, when I’m surprised, my inability to process words pretty much guarantees that I won’t unthinkingly snap back with a hurtful comment. Initially, I can’t speak at all, and in the process of trying to find and form words, my filters become engaged, and I have time to consider the possible downside to what I might be about to say.

Second, I have found that if I allow myself to become immersed in whatever my reaction might be at the time, eventually the perceived crisis loses its power over me. I find that after I have expended my initial overreacting burst of energy, I am once again able to think more clearly about the situation. I can re-evaluate whether or not things are as bad as I initially perceived them to be. I can start to plan how best to cope with it.

And, I have found, that rather than stuffing my feelings inside where they can rise up and surprise me in unpleasant ways at seemingly random moments, in my overreaction and recovery process I have expressed and then dealt with those feelings in such a way that once I’m done with an issue, I’m done. I don’t need to re-examine it later. I can move on.

So, although I don’t like the feeling when I overreact, and I have empathy for other people close to me who occasionally have to be discomforted by being exposed to my silent, blank-faced nonverbal process, in the end I think the benefits may make it worth it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Questions Answered #4

By Susan Esther Barnes

One of the fun things about getting website statistics for my blog is I get to see the search terms people use to get here. A lot of those search terms are questions. You have some great questions, and I think they deserve an answer. So here is the fourth installment of “Your Questions Answered.”

What is the relevance of kissing as a religious ritual?
I love this question. For one answer, look at the very first post
on my blog, in which I explain the meaning of the name of my blog and what it means to me when I kiss a mezuzah.

If you attend a synagogue service, most likely you will see Jews kiss ritual objects, such as the Torah scroll or the neckband of their tallit (prayer shawl) before they put it on. If a siddur (prayer book) falls on the ground, you might see a person kiss it right after they pick it up.

The relevance of the kiss is to show love and respect for the ritual object. It is a way to show that we recognize these things as holy, beyond the holiness we seek to acknowledge in everything and everyone.

What other people use the Torah?
In general, you will only see Jews using a Sefer Torah, or a Torah scroll, which is written on parchment in Hebrew, and contains the five books of Moses. The Hebrew Bible, or Tanach, contains everything in the Sefer Torah as well as the Prophets and the Writings.

Secular people and people of various religions study the Tanach for various reasons. The contents of the Hebrew Bible are included in the Christian Bible, so Christians “use” it, too, although the chapters are in a different order, and Christians usually read the Torah (they call it the “old testament”) in a translation instead of the original Hebrew and Aramaic.

What does “chevra” mean?
Chevra is Hebrew for “society” or a group of people. It comes from the Hebrew word for “friend.” A “chevra kadisha” is a “holy society.” This is the group of people who visit the sick, and who prepare the dead for burial, including ritually washing the body, dressing him/her, and placing the body in the casket.

Refua shlema translation
“Refua shlema” is Hebrew for a “complete healing.” You might also hear it said as a “healing of body and a healing of spirit.” A wish for a refua shlema can be applied to someone suffering from a physical or mental illness, or to someone who is in any kind of distress. It can be used to wish them comfort and spiritual strength even in cases where a physical healing appears unlikely.

How long does a mourning minyan last?
The first seven days after a loved one is buried is called the shiva period. The word “shiva” means “seven” in Hebrew. It is customary for the loved one’s family to hold shiva minyans during the mourning period. (A “minyan” is a group of 10 Jews, which is the minimum number required to say certain prayers).

The length of a shiva minyan service can vary, based on the number of prayers that are said, and how fast they are recited. Also, there is often time set aside during the service for friends and family to talk about the person who has died, and the amount of time used for that can vary.

If you are going to attend a shiva minyan, you can expect the service to last at least a half an hour, and probably not more than an hour. It may not start exactly on time, and you will probably want to allow yourself extra time to express your condolences to the family. In addition, depending on the customs of the community, many of those coming to the service may bring food for the family to eat, and there may be food set out for those coming to the service.

How to thank clergy for a shiva service
It’s great that someone in mourning is thinking about thanking the clergy. On the one hand, it’s their job to do this, and you don’t really need to thank them. On the other hand, they are human, and it’s nice for them to know they are not being taken for granted.

You would thank them just like you would for anything else. You can thank them verbally at the time of the service, or you can call them or send them a note afterward. You might also consider making a donation in memory of the deceased to the synagogue where the clergy person works.

Keep those questions coming!
I would love to answer more of your questions, so feel free to ask some in the comments section below, or just keep going with those interesting search terms.