A Fight On Yom Kippur
One other incident sticks in my mind. It happened on Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish Year. Yom Kippur falls in September or October, its exact timing determined by the lunar calendar.
The Central Synagogue (or Shul) was packed and hot that particular day. The caretaker, a non-Jew, came in at regular intervals with a fragranced water spray to freshen the air to prevent people from fainting from the heat or ongoing hunger. In the background, less devout men discussed food or football while the Chazzan (or Cantor) continued to chant away on the Bimah (platform).
Occasionally, one of the lay readers on the platform rapped on the wood to get everyone’s attention. A few minutes later, the muttering resumed. Up on the balcony, women talked amongst themselves or sent gestures down to their husbands below, telling them to stop chatting.
A commotion broke out during the late afternoon. A man had just reprimanded my brother for putting his shoes on the man’s clean and ironed trousers. My father, seated a couple of places away, turned to face the man and shook his fist.
‘Outside for a fight,’ my father shouted, pointing to the main sanctuary door.
People gaped. Such behaviour had never taken in the synagogue, and certainly not on Yom Kippur..
The fight didn’t take place in the end, but my mother was horrified. She kept waving to my father from the balcony, pleading with him to calm down.