From the Desk - The Box of Matzah Used in Making an Eruv
Shalom Friends! I hope you are all well as the weather gets colder and the Beth Ora calendar continues to feature wonderful new programming for our community. Please be sure to check out the highlights for this coming Shabbat Project below. First though, I want to introduce a new section of my letter which will highlight an important development in our community strategy. The Beth Ora Vision On Kol Nidrei night, I shared with you that a group composed of a cross-section of our community worked for many months to explore the question - What is the vision of Congregation Beth Ora? What kind of community do we want to be? When we make decisions of how to allocate resources or what to concentrate on, we must do that based on a clear idea of where we want to be as a community. Experts in synagogue management have written that, for a synagogue, having a vision is not just a 'nice-to-have', it's a 'need-to-have'. A community cannot thrive unless it knows why it exists and what it is here to do. A vision inspires professional staff, volunteers and all members to contribute to something greater than themselves. The group presented vision and mission statements to the executive and board who approved them. We are now working on aligning all our activities with our vision so that we can be inspired and guided together by a common understanding of what we are working to achieve. This is the Beth Ora vision statement: A community centre where all generations, of whatever background or level of observance, connect to their Jewish heritage and find meaning through giving and spiritual growth, in a vibrant, inclusive, caring environment. Each phrase here can be unpacked, revealing multiple insights and many ideas for programming and community direction. The board together with all the synagogue committees, the professional staff and the entire community are now to embark on a process of exploring what this vision means to us and for our community and what we can do practically to make it happen. In each of my future letters, I will be discussing the different sections of our vision statement, how Judaism gives us a deep perspective on each of its elements and how that makes a difference to the way we do things at Congregation Beth Ora. I encourage you to do your own thinking about our community's vision statement. Is there anything you find unsettling? Do you think this is a good description of our community at the moment? If it isn't a perfect description, how do you think we could do better? This is your community and we are here to listen and to work together. I invite you all to join us on this process to make a difference at Congregation Beth Ora. Shabbat Project 2018 This Shabbat is a special one at Congregation Beth Ora and around the world. Thousands of Jews from around the world are careful each year to keep Shabbat on the week of the Shabbat project, even if they are not generally Shabbat observant. Shabbat is a beautiful experience, an oasis of harmony in a world of craziness. I encourage you all to keep Shabbat this week. Anyone who has any questions as to how to keep Shabbat should feel free to email me or call me at 514-714-6559. At Beth Ora, we have been working hard on an amazing program for the Shabbat Project. On Friday at 5:30 PM, our Shabbat service begins with singing and joy, as well as raffles for the children and teens (Toys R Us voucher and swatch watch to be won!) and a delicious cheesecake and hot chocolate Kiddush! On Shabbat day, we have planned a service full of community participation, including both our kids' and men's choirs. The service will conclude with a children's quiz and a short talk from Michael Smith, and will be followed by a sit-down Kiddush. At the third meal, on Shabbat afternoon, we will be treated to insights on Shabbat from Isaac Fried, Rami Hetzroni and Hayden Smith. We hope to conclude Shabbat with Havdallah with a difference :-). I look forward to a wonderful community Shabbat at Beth Ora! Shabbat Project Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with... the Box of Matzah Used in Making an Eruv? As I wrote last week, we had a questions and answers session at the end of Sukkot. At that session, Les Smith asked the question of why a box of matzah is used in making an eruv. Let's give some background and then answer Les' question. One of the things that we are not allowed to do on Shabbat is to carry outside a private domain. Given certain conditions, a courtyard, community or town can be considered a private domain if it has an eruv. The eruv is constructed using polls and a lentil as thick as a string. There also needs to be a communally owned deposit of food to indicate that it is as though everyone who owns a share of the food was living in one area. The tradition is to use matzah and, indeed, we have some matzah in our chapel which is designated for this purpose. So why do we use matzah? When Les asked the question, Rabbi Heshy Benshimon replied that we use matzah rather than bread because matzah lasts much longer than bread. Indeed, this is the reason given by Rabbi Moshe Isserles (major Ashkenazi halachic authority who lived in Poland from 1530-1572). Rabbi Isserles adds another simple reason - using matzah rather than bread means it can be used over Passover!