From the Desk - Elevators on Shabbat
Shalom Friends! What a wonderful Passover we enjoyed at Beth Ora! It was a privilege to be uplifted by the services so beautifully led by Heshy (with the help of his brother, Levi) who introduced a whole repertoire of inspiring Yom Tov tunes. Our Chol Hamoed young families trip was a great success and enjoyed by all. And well done to all those who participated in Goodbye Passover, especially Davi Smith who warmed our hearts with a beautiful Mah Nishtana rendition! No sooner has Passover finished and we must get ready for more Beth Ora events. This Shabbat we will be honouring the Land and State of Israel, in advance of next week's celebration of Israel's 70th birthday! We look forward to Israel themed tunes from our kids' choir, an Israel themed sermon and a selection of Israeli food at the Kiddush! Please make a special effort to attend this week to celebrate one of the most momentous developments in Jewish history and to show our love for the land and people of Israel. Please also join us on Thursday April 19th with thousands of other members of the Montreal Jewish community for the rally in celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut. Buses leave Beth Ora at 10:15 AM. There is great excitement at Beth Ora in anticipation of our Shabbaton and guest speaker, Rabbi Doron Kornbluth. At our Friday night dinner (April 20th), Doron will be addressing one of the most important questions of our Jewish lives - How do we teach our kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren to love being Jewish? Please see here for more details on the Shabbaton and book by this Friday to secure your place. Members must call the office (514-748-6559). In Synagogue Last Shabbat Last Shabbat was the Shabbat preceding Yom Hashoah and this Passover also marked the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. I spoke about the incredible strength of character of the Holocaust survivors who came eyeball to eyeball with the angel of death and went on to choose life for their children, grandchildren and communities. In particular, we honoured the Holocaust survivors of our own community who indeed honour us with their presence and by their commitment and contribution to Beth Ora. These are also appropriate sentiments for Yizkor at which we remember the commitment and dedication of all those who didn't necessarily make headlines or receive awards for their self-sacrifice but, through their dedication and commitment, brought us to where we are today. And now it is our turn. We need to show that we are the next link in that chain and that we are committed to the realization of those values to which our forebears were so committed. At Beth Ora, it is particularly important to us that the community continues into the next generation. Just as we are here because of those who came before us, the next generation of Beth Ora will be here because of the work we do now. In the sermon, I announced the new special membership prices that we are offering at Beth Ora as part of a membership outreach initiative. Since these prices were confirmed a few weeks ago, I have been making countless calls to people to encourage them to sign up, but this is something that cannot be achieved by one person alone. Many of you have lived here your whole lives, many of you know Jewish people in Montreal who we can reach out to. I want to say loud and clear: My door is open to you! Please come to me and I will go with you to visit people, I will call people and reach out to them for the good of our community. If we all bring our ideas, connections and initiatives to the table, together we will succeed. At this critical juncture in our community, I call on the congregation to follow me in reaching out to new members. Let's reach out together and then, surely, we will succeed. So please come to me. Come with your ideas for events, for publicity and come to tell me how you can work with me to grow our community together! Wishing the whole community a blessed Shabbat, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with Elevators on Shabbat? A few weeks ago, Joseph Bitton asked me what is the deal with using elevators on Shabbat. In discussing this question, I am indebted to an article by Rabbi Shlomo Brody. Operating elevators violates Shabbat by generating electricity and activating button and floor lights. It is also not always acceptable to ask a gentile to assist. Generally speaking, one may not request a non-Jew to perform any actions which remain prohibited for Jews to perform. Among the reasons for this are protecting the spirit of the day and preventing a denigration of Shabbat restrictions. On the other hand, there are certain dispensations. Not everyone can use the stairs and some decisors allow a non-Jew to operate an elevator to allow residents to attend synagogue services and Shabbat meals. For example, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik reportedly permitted Manhattan apartment dwellers to use this dispensation. Those who have visited Israel are probably familiar with another solution. Israeli engineers developed automated systems, colloquially known as Shabbat elevators, which stop on desired floors at fixed intervals and times. Not all rabbinic decisors have embraced this innovation with many claiming that each additional rider adds weight that increases the amount of electricity drawn. Some Shabbat elevators operate an alternative mechanic system that avoids these problems while others say that the regular Shabbat elevator is fine. Therefore, there is halachic basis, if one is left with no choice, to enter an elevator and simply 'roam' to the floor to which one gets taken by non-Jewish passengers attending to their own needs.