From the Desk - The Fast of Esther
Shalom Friends! It’s wonderful to be back at Beth Ora after an excellent trip to Florida! Before we went away, Beth Ora hosted a fantastic Shabbat in honour of the women of our community. There was wonderful community participation culminating in a stirring rendition of A Woman of Valour by the world infamous Beth Ora Alternative Choir! We also had an excellent debate at the end of the service when we delved into the fascinating question of what actually happened with the sin of the Golden Calf. A big yasher koach to George Gross and Polly Storozum for arguing their positions so well! The Florida trip was a great experience. I had the opportunity to meet up with rabbis from across North America to discuss important issues relating to rabbinic leadership. I also benefited from so many great ideas which are being practiced in other synagogues which we plan to bring to Beth Ora. I thank Beth Ora for recognizing the importance of and supporting my professional development for the good of our community. After the conference, I met up with some of our beloved Beth Ora snowbirds before giving a talk to a combined meeting of Beth Ora Shul for Dummies and Cote St Luc Men’s Club – all in Deerfield Beach (where else!). Yasher koach to Jack Dym for organizing the event and to Marvin Braude for behaving throughout the session. At the end of the trip, I had the opportunity to join my family at Disney and Sea World. It was a very special experience!
Now that we’re back, it’s all happening at Beth Ora. Yesterday, we held our annual blood drive – a commitment to Beth Ora’s mission of bringing people together to inspire and empower acts of kindness. Kol Hakavod to Shelley and Mark Sherman and all our volunteers who made it possible for so many to fulfil this important mitzvah! This Shabbat is a Shabbat with a difference here in Congregation Beth Ora. I can’t tell you exactly how! You’ll just have to come along on Shabbat morning and see. In any case, if you have any questions, don’t ask me, ask Howard Sholzberg… And then, as we continue in the Purim spirit, we are delighted to invite you to join in the fun on Sunday at 2pm as we bake hamentaschen for the shul and the Purim Carnival! Please call the office to register. Purim itself begins on Wednesday evening, and we invite you to join us for the Megillah Reading at 7:30 pm followed by the famous Beth Ora carnival. You can find out more about Purim in the special Purim guide we’ll be sending out. There’s a rule: You’re not allowed to talk about Passover until Purim is over! So I’ll be brief. We are delighted to present for the very first time, the Clergy Roadshow! On the evening of April 1st, Heshy, Carly and myself will be presenting at three different homes in the course of one evening. You pick one venue and hear all three of us speak. It will be a wonderful preparation for Passover and a great opportunity to spend time with fellow Beth Ora members. Reserve your spot by calling the office. Limited spaces available. We are delighted and excited to be providing such a full program at Beth Ora which we hope will enhance your Jewish and communal experience. Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Purim! Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with… The Fast of Esther? The Fast of Esther is this Wednesday. It commemorates the fasting of our ancestors during the Purim story. One instance in which fasting features in the Purim story is when Esther approached the king to intercede on behalf of the Jewish People. Before she went to the king, she fasted for three days and asked that all the Jews fast as well. Another instance was on the 13th Adar which Haman had set aside for killing the Jews. The Jews fasted and prayed and defeated their enemies. There is a special custom which is traditionally practiced on the Fast of Esther. It is customary to give three 50 cent coins to charity on the afternoon of the Fast of Esther. These commemorate the half shekel that was donated by each Jew in temple times to the temple treasury. But there are no 50 cent coins – some of you may say! That’s what I thought but apparently there are. But seeing as you have to take a trip to the bank to acquire such coins, you should be fine putting in three dollars. This money goes to tzedakah. Purim Sameach!