Members at Ohel Yosef were visibly shocked when a recent Sabbath service concluded without a single argument occurring during the two-hour plus time period. Arguments at Sephardic synagogues often occur during various parts of the service, from who will be called for an Aliya, to most commonly, what is done when special prayers are inserted during the service if there is a bar mitzvah, or the Sabbath coincides with another festival. Long time member Ofer Ben Ami had this to say, “If Roi not here, No problem!! De guy always want to say something about what to do. ‘No no. You say dis only after read de Torah’ . I tell you, de guy, he stupid!” Noam Ben Barak, owner of “Kyle’s Auto Body” was also vocal about the arguments. “I tell you dis, every time, dees guys want to do something, I always say ask de Rabbi, but he young you know? He don want to make problem.”
Ofer and Noam were not the only congregants to want to voice their frustrations. Every single male congregant lined up to voice his opinion upon hearing that a member of the press was there to do a story. Rabbi David Khadouri, newly hired this past July, was quick to point out that while arguments do occur in his synagogue, they are usually settled quickly, and even faster if Roi is not in attendance. He was however, quite surprised that even without Roi there, this past Sabbath went off without a hitch. “I was just sitting there, expecting someone to have a problem with something, and all of a sudden we were at the end of the service. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I know the guys like to blame Roi, but Shachar, Eli, Tomer, all those guys, they all start something usually.”
Needless to say, the other men mentioned denied that they started any kind of arguments and said the rabbi is new and doesn’t really know what he is talking about. Long time member Asaf Cohen had this to say, “Look, I’m a Cohen so as long as I get de first aliya, and dey don give to de guy who you know who I’m talking about, I don care what he give even if he rich guy, we don have problem.” Many congregants point out that it is rare for there to actually be a Sabbath where there is not some kind of wrinkle in the service, and the fact that this past Sabbath was one of them may have contributed to the no argument situation. Rabbi Khadouri is more optimistic. “I just think the congregation is beginning to realize that we all get done faster if the arguments are kept to a minimum, if not completely avoided.” Next week the Sabbath coincides with a bar mitzvah, and precedes Rosh Hashanah. The true test may just be then. No women could be reached for comment.