From the Desk - The Fast of Tevet
Shalom Friends! Chanukah at Beth Ora We enjoyed a wonderful Shabbat last week at Beth Ora. There was a great attendance at our Chanukah dinner, superbly organized by Jackie Harroch and Howie Brown! On Shabbat morning, we were treated to an excellent sermon from Rabbi Haim Nataf, the Rabbi of our neighbouring synagogue, Petah Tikva. As I mentioned when introducing Rabbi Nataf, we were delighted by this opportunity to connect to the broader Ville Saint Laurent Jewish community. There are some more joint events being planned in the coming months and we look forward to further collaboration for the good of the whole community. After Shabbat, we enjoyed a wonderful Chanukah kids event. Many thanks to Rebbetzin Carly for her hard work in organizing this event and to all those who assisted. We turned on the Chanukah lights on the electric Chanukiah outside the synagogue where I gave the kids a Chanukah quiz with great prizes. We then came inside for popcorn, donuts and the screening of a great movie. Everyone had a great time. Passing the Torch to the Next Generation Last week, I wrote that I intend to spend the next few weeks writing and reflecting on the importance of bringing the different generations together at Congregation Beth Ora - a key component of our communal vision. Last week, I read an insightful article which discussed one of the great successes of 20th century Jewry: the Soviet Jewry movement. In the mid 1980s, there were close to 3 million Jews in the Soviet Jewry with little or no Jewish involvement. The community was determined to reignite Judaism in the Soviet Union. There were protests and marches, petitions and lobbying and the impact was monumental. And yet, the author (Rabbi Dr Jay Goldmintz) claims that there was one way in which the movement was a failure. Natan Sharansky reflected on a number of occasions that a generation of Jews spent 20 years or more fighting a battle that we ultimately won and yet, amazingly, we failed to tell our children about it: 'Our kids for the most part have no idea of our struggles or those of Soviet Jews; they have no idea what it meant to take to the streets, work the system and change the world.' Rabbi Goldmintz bemoans that our children do not know the story because, quite simply, we haven't shared it with them. As you know, the office staff and members of the board are currently thinking through some innovative ideas to engage the younger generation in our community. I invite you to join the conversation and answer the following questions: What are the stories that we should be telling the children of our community - not just to keep them coming through the door but to inspire them with a vision of what they can achieve? Members of our community and others have so many stories from their own lives - stories of Israel's wars, stories of Soviet Jewry and much more. What must we do to tell the younger generation of Jews what we as individuals, as a community and a people have accomplished and what this means to us. Our Prayers for Our Brothers and Sisters in Israel This week, we were shocked to learn of the shooting in the community of Ofra in Israel. We have just heard the very sad news that the baby born to Shira Ish-Ran who was injured in the attack did not survive. We pray for the recovery of all the other victims. We have the Hebrew names of Amichai Ish-Ran and his wife Shira and I ask you all to pray for Amichai Yishai ben Feige Gitel Galila and Shira Yael bat Liora Sara. While every terror attack is tragic, this hits close to home as the young man who was shot is a close relative of members of the Montreal Jewish community. On Wednesday evening, Amichai's grandmother came to pray at our services. May Hashem grant a refuah shlemah (a complete recovery) to all the victims and may our people be blessed with peace and no more sorrow. Off to Israel On Sunday, Dovid and I are going for a trip to the holy city of Jerusalem! We look forward to seeing you on our return the following week. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with.... The Fast of Tevet? Next Tuesday (December 18th) is the Fast of Tevet. We are familiar with the themes of Yom Kippur and, perhaps, Tisha B'Av but we are often in the dark on the ideas behind the other fasts in the Jewish calendar. So.... what's the deal? The Fast of Tevet commemorates the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylonia, an event which ultimately culminated in the destruction of the First Temple. The fast also commemorates other calamities that occurred on the 10th of Tevet and the two days preceding it. These include the following:
The translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek which various rabbinical sources see as a debasement of the Divine nature of the Torah, losing the deeper layers of meaning available when we read the Torah in Hebrew.
Ezra the Scribe, the great leader who brought some Jews back to the Holy Land from the Babylonian exile and who ushered in the era of the Second Temple is said to have died on this day. Some sources say that Ezra's contemporary, the great leader Nechemia, also died on this day.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Fast of Tevet as a day to allow the relatives of victims of the Holocaust and those whose yahrzeits are unknown to observe the traditional yahrzeit practices, including lighting a memorial candle, learning Torah in the merit of the soul of the deceased and saying Kaddish.