From the Desk - Praying with a Minyan
I hope that you are all well and surviving our Winter! This Shabbat, we invite you to come and warm up at a very special Friday night with dancing (and singing) and culminating with a Kiddush with lovely hot soup (and egg rolls)! Even if you don’t normally come along to synagogue on Friday afternoon, come along this time and show that the cold is no match for the spirit of Congregation Beth Ora!! The joy continues the next morning with our special Shabbat Shira Community Shabbat. We have lots of treats in store including special performances from our kids’ choir and our adults’ choir, special participation from our members (young and old!) and a Kids’ quiz on the bima at the end of the service. At the end of the service, we will enjoy a beautiful Kiddush which will include an assortment of fruits in honour of T”U B’Shvat, the new year for trees which is next Wednesday. Please make every effort to join us for what will be an uplifting Shabbat for our community. Please click here for more forthcoming events. We look forward to keeping you posted on these and more as we get closer to the time. Wishing you well until then and looking forward to sharing with you a Shabbat of song and of joy, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with…Praying with a Minyan? President Yancovitch asked me to discuss the importance of praying with a minyan. During this Winter period, it has sometimes been difficult to get a strong minyan at every weekday service in Beth Ora. I am delighted to say that several of our members have come forward to attend services and this has helped immensely. We would still appreciate further support from any Jewish male in the community over Bar Mitzvah. If you are able to attend one minyan a week or even one minyan every two weeks, please speak to me or Rabbi Heshy Benshimon. From time to time, I hear people suggest that praying at the synagogue with a minyan is not so important because those who wish to pray can do so alone, at home. On one level, this is correct. One doesn’t need to be in synagogue to pray. We can pray wherever we are (with the exception of the washroom!) and we can certainly pray when we are alone. At the same time, this suggestion fails to understand a central feature of Jewish spirituality. In Judaism, we are not just a collection of individuals, each on our own spiritual journey. We do all have our private lives but Judaism places a high premium on community. We don’t just experience G-d on our own, we experience Him when standing amongst the community. We connect to Him as we stand together in prayer and we also grow spiritually when we study together and when we participate together in acts of kindness. Last night, Dovid and I attended the hockey match at the Bell Centre. I was interested to notice that there are some people who sit high up in the stadium and cannot see the players on the rink. Instead, they watch the game on a little screen. But they choose not to do so at home but, instead, pay for the privilege of watching in the stadium. Dovid asked me what was the point of this! Why not just watch at home?! I suspect that, if we asked those ‘spectators’, they would answer that being in the stadium with thousands of Canadian supporters creates an exciting atmosphere which is incomparable to sitting alone at home. On a much deeper way, this is what we believe when it comes to communal prayer. Every prayer is valuable but there is something very special about praying together with a community. The Jewish legal commentator, Rabbi Avraham Gombiner quotes the Book of Proverbs: In the multitudes, the King is glorified. When many people come to synagogue to pray, it glorifies the name of G-d. Godliness is brought into the world when we pray, study and do kind deeds – not only alone, but as a community.