If you were in shul today, as on any Rosh Chodesh, you may have heard the distinctive sound of a gabbai or chazan's hand whacking the bima immediately prior to the Amida (or Shemona Esreh). At many shuls this sound is accompanied by a verbal reminder to add the Rosh HaShanah prayer "Yaaleh b'yavoh," or in many cases the sound itself is meant to be a self-explanatory reminder.

This got me thinking about how this intriguing and efficient concept can be applied to other aspects of synagogue and Jewish life. Here are some humble suggestions:

  • A whack on a kiddush table to remind the guy in front of you, who is pondering the meaning of life while slowly spooning out his fourth bowl of cholent, that there is a line behind him.
  • A whack on the pew next to you to remind a rabbi that it's been close to half hour, and now might be a good time to get to the point.
  • A whack on your kids' bedroom door at 9 AM on Shabbat morning to remind them to get to shul before Anim Zmirot.
  • A whack on the pew during Torah reading to interrupt the Republican-Democrat debate behind you, or Jets-Patriots recap and ask participants to take it outside.
  • A (gentle) whack on Bubby's kitchen table to remind her that after that last attempted "match" with her neighbor's nephew's accountant, she's through playing JDate.

Other suggestions welcome.