~FROM THE DESK OF~

RABBI ANTHONY KNOPF

 
 
  • Rabbi Anthony Knopf

From the Desk - Celebrations and Tragedy


Shalom Friends! I hope you're all well. Before I discuss recent events in the community and the world, I want to mention that I know of a young woman in Cote St Luc who needs help with her baby during the daytime, for any amount of time one can spare, because she has back problems and cannot lift the baby out of the crib. A friend of this young mother is coordinating a schedule of volunteers to go and help her for however long they want. If you may be able to help, please contact Shelley Sherman at shelleysherman@videotron.ca. Last week, we had a wonderful Shabbat celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of Shlomo Petel! After Shabbat, the activity continued with an event we did in conjunction with PJ Library featuring a special Havdallah, story time, arts and crafts and, of course, pizza! On Sunday, the celebrations continued as we came together to celebrate the bris of Rabbi Heshy and Sarah's son, Menachem Mendel. Then, in the evening, a number of us came back to the synagogue to attend the fundraising dinner for our Kollel. All this is a great build up to our Kehillah Shabbat next week (February 11th) which will feature singing from our youth choir and the Aleinu choir as well as a special Tu B'Shvat Kiddush! This is going to be an amazing Shabbat with many wonderful songs in honor of Shabbat Shira and some delicious fruit in honor of the new year for trees. Please make every effort to join us for this special event in our community. Sadly, we also heard on Sunday about the terrible shooting in a mosque in Quebec City in which six Muslims were murdered. This tragedy coincides with the controversial immigration policy of Donald Trump with people lining up on both sides to discuss the legality and morality of Trump's executive order, curtailing immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Central to the political discussion is the question of the necessity of such measures for national security. Without trivializing that question, I think there is a more fundamental spiritual and ethical issue to which we must be sensitive. I have talked on quite a few occasions in the past about the importance of feeling a special connection with the Jewish People. We bear a kinship with our contemporary Jews and even those of previous and future generations. At the same time, we need to beware of that kinship leading to our lack of sensitivity and respect for other human beings. Particularly in the case of the Muslim world from which there has been so much promotion of hateful teachings and barbaric terrorism, we must refrain from tarnishing all Muslims with the same brush. To be a good Jew is to build on the foundations of being a good human being. Part of what it means to be a good human being is to recognize the humanity of others. There is the world of difference between recognizing the danger that emanates from the Islamist worldview and dehumanizing and speaking disparagingly of Muslims in general. Unfortunately, there is racism everywhere and I know that this exists in the Jewish community as well. But the greatest travesty is when people invoke Judaism to justify such bigotry. When we address these questions as Jews (whatever stance we take on particular policies), our starting position is that all human beings are created in the image of Hashem. When we allow ourselves to be sucked into a culture of dehumanizing the other, we not only attenuate our own humanity but we also weaken our Jewish authenticity. So let us continue to debate what is best for the world in these troubled times. But if, perhaps in the course of such discussions, we hear comments that offend our basic humanity and Jewish commitment, let us not be afraid to voice our objections. As human beings and as Jews, let us pray for the good of all humanity and let us continue here at Beth Ora to bring more light into the world as we continue to grow our community and to define our vision for the future. Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom - a peace which we pray will spread to the whole world. Rabbi Anthony and Carly Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami

#havdalah #PJLibrary #bris #mosque #tragedy #humanity

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