This was my third year in a row on the Upper West Side for Simchat Torah. I guess it has a gained a reputation as the “place to be,” as an out of town friend defined it.
Because of its reputation, Simchat Torah there was a madhouse. When I got back to my apartment building at 1:30 am, there must have been 50-75 drunk Modern Orthodox Jews hanging out (and presumably discussing their impending marriages).
The craziest thing I experienced though was at the Carlebach Shul, the former synagogue of the famous Reb Shlomo Carlebach. The shul has a reputation for going very late into the night with their Hakafot.Â To put that into perspective, when I arrived there at about 11:30, they were just beginning to 3rd Hakafah (out of 7).
But here is the craziest part.Â Because the shul is pretty small, and the crowds are so large, there actually is a bouncer outside.Â To paraphrase Joe Biden, let me repeat that. There was a bouncer outside. When I got there, he was only letting in four people at time. Never mind if you were in a group of six.
I almost expected to be asked for identification.Â Really, though, it’s surprising that all the Orthodox men weren’t told to take off their hats.