From the Desk - Food in a Shiva House
Shalom Friends, I'd like to wish a big yasher koach to all those who joined us at Beth Ora last Shabbat. Less than two weeks ago, we heard of the enormous tragedy that happened in Pittsburgh. This was proof - though we didn't need any - of the depths of evil of which human beings are capable. Since then, we have observed the response to that tragedy. We have witnessed again and again the love, kindness and goodness of which human beings are capable. We saw this in the condolences, not perfunctory but heartfelt, of religious and political leaders and ordinary people from around the world. Amidst our horror at experiencing this evil in the United States within living memory of the Holocaust, we have been reminded that decent people of all nations around the world stand with our people in solidarity. But perhaps most of all, we have been reminded of how remarkable is the Jewish People. Taking our cue from our forefather Abraham, we have learnt to respond to tragedy, not with hate but with love; not with despair but with hope and faith; not with resignation but with determination to continue. This was demonstrated so powerfully by all those wonderful people who traveled from all over North America to Pittsburgh to give comfort to the families and the community. But it was also demonstrated in the worldwide appeal to Jews across the world to attend synagogue in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh who were so devoted to their synagogue community. At an interfaith vigil at Vanier College last Friday and again last Shabbat, I reflected on the importance of showing this commitment to goodness and community, not only in times of tragedy. Our community - Beth Ora and beyond - will only be at its strongest when we regularly affirm and celebrate the values we live by. For this reason, I urge you to join us this Shabbat to honour and celebrate both the veterans of our community and our community volunteers. All of these people, in quite different ways, have expressed a value that is central to both Judaism and Congregation Beth Ora - that we do not only live for ourselves but for the sake of something greater, of which we are a part. Indeed, that is what we mean in our vision statement when we say we are a community centre. I look forward to celebrating these values this Shabbat before enjoying a special Kiddush where we hope to hear some words from some of our veterans. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with... Food in a Shiva House? Somehow, food finds its way into every area of Jewish life! This even includes the times when a person is unfortunately bereaved. Sometimes, both the mourning family and visitors have questions about food. Here is some clarification, based on an article by Yehuda Shurpin. After returning from the funeral, it is customary for the mourners to have a private meal just for them. This meal is called a seudat havara'ah, which means 'meal of recovery'. When possible, this meal is provided by others, such as neighbours, close friends or relatives. This reminds the mourners that they aren't alone at this time. Traditionally, the food provided for a seudat havara'ah consists of bread (preferably round rolls, like bagels) and hard-boiled eggs. The roundness symbolizes the cycle of life. Other foods and drinks can also be consumed in the seudat havara'ah. Though the mourners are permitted to prepare their own food after the first meal, there is a wonderful custom in many communities to bring food for the families. Finally, many have the custom to toast a L'chaim on the seventh day, right after the shivah is concluded.