Readers feeling deprived of their daily dose of SC on Thursday may rest assured that your host spent much of the day in synagogue for Rosh Hashanah. Actually, that's technically untrue. He spent the day in a church, albeit for the aforementioned holiday.
This is not all that uncommon an occurrence. Orange County, CA, is not exactly home to an enormous Jewish population. It's big enough to have a decent number of synagogues, but many of them are constructed according to the principle expressed in the following joke:
Q: Two Jews are stuck on a desert island. How many synagogues do they build?
A: Three. One that each one goes to, and another one that nobody goes to.
[From The Big Book of Jewish Humor]
As a bonus humorous aside, Yahoo!'s listings for temples/synagogues in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa erroneously include an upscale jeweler, Temple St. Clair, located in a big regional mall. Oops.
Back to the church, though. Because many synagogues are constructed to handle the day-to-day demands of a few hundred people at most, they often simply don't have the physical resources needed to accomodate the large crowds that show up for the High Holidays. For this reason, it's not uncommon for services on these days to be held at other venues. In the case of the synagogue to which SC belongs, that's a nearby church called Calvary which has generously shared its facilities for a number of years now.
The name Calvary is attached to many churches; it's hard to say how many just by Googling the name, but your host has seen it in enough contexts to be aware of that fact. It's not a name with any theological significance to Jews, though, so I felt obliged to look it up in preparing this post. A Catholic encyclopedia that your host has consulted on previous occasions indicatesthat it refers to a place where Jesus may have been crucified; the discussion is nuanced and covers plenty of material that SC won't even pretend to be qualified to comment on. Suffice it to say that the word is of wholly distinct etymology from "cavalry", a term referring to either mounted or mechanized infantry, of the sort commanded by General Custer.
The salience of this point comes from the utter and total inability of SC's fellow congregants to say "Calvary" today, substituting "cavalry" at every available opportunity. This struck SC as another good opportunity to talk about exchange errors in speech.
It's a bit tough to be sure of what kind of error we're talking about here, as there are two varieties of disfluency that could be involved. On the one hand, it could be a word-internal exchange of phonological material, with two sounds slipping positions. Or it could be a lexical exchange where people with both words in their vocabulary simply are having trouble recalling the right one (especially since neither of them are likely to be high-frequency items among this crowd). Examples of these sorts of errors, not to mention a useful example of the experimental protocols for studying them, can be found in this paper by Rachel Walker and a couple of her students. A nice background presentation on speech errors also can be found through this (Google-cached) handout by Bruce Tesar (SC only found this on the web by searching for more examples, although sometime he'll have to talk about Prof. Tesar's book on learnability, which he absolutely loved). While we're at it with course materials found through Google, check out the discussion of Freudian slips in this set of lecture notes by Mark Liberman and Bill Poser's colleague Gene Buckley. Prof. Buckley appears to have the sense of humor that ought to be on display in Language Log
It's hard to imagine an experiment that would conclusively demonstrate whether the Calvary/cavalry error is lexical or phonological. One way to eliminate the lexical hypothesis might be to have groups of Jewish and Christian test subjects read aloud sentences containing the words, and see if there's any significant difference in the error rates for the two words. Of course, such a study would be filled with all sorts of background problems, most notably controlling for the actual world knowledge of the Jewish test subjects. And if the error rates were similar, you wouldn't have any new knowledge about where in the speech production process things were going wrong. The services for the second day of Rosh Hashanah will be held in the synagogue (attendance figures for day 2 are usually lower), so that means he's got until next Friday night (read: Yom Kippur) to come up with an experimental protocol to use on his fellow congregants.