From the Desk - Praying in Space
Shalom Friends! Delighted to see so many people have returned from Florida and Beth Ora is responding in style with a full program of great activities. Beth Ora is a community centre which brings people together to share experiences and develop friendships. One of the most regular but sometimes unnoticed programs in Beth Ora is our Seniors program. This week, it was back on in full force and we are delighted to welcome back Mary Boeko and her team who organize the group activities with such commitment and dedication. Similarly, our Sisterhood does a wonderful job of organizing engaging events for our community. On Tuesday night, they put on a very important session featuring a presentation from Joelle Malek of the DOvEE project who spoke about diagnosing ovarian and endometrical cancer early. Kol hakavod to the volunteers who ensure that we continue to offer these great programs at Beth Ora! Beth Ora is not only a place where we socialize with friends. It is also a space in which we can connect to our Jewish heritage and learn more about Judaism. I’m delighted to report that on Monday evening we had a very successful start to a new education program – the clergy roadshow (see pic below)! We are so grateful to the Harroch, Caron and Dym families for opening their homes with such warmth to members of our community and many thanks to Rabbi Heshy and Rebbetzin Carly for their excellent talks. Altogether, there were over 40 attendees and we look forward to an even bigger turnout next time!
And Beth Ora is also a place of caring and acts of kindness. On Sunday, we had a wonderful joint session of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah groups (see the pic below!). At the MADA Centre, we were privileged to have a tour from Rabbi Shmuel before getting the opportunity to volunteer to assist in the amazing work that MADA does. The trip was attended by both parents and children. Everyone was inspired to learn about the incredible kindness that is practiced in our Jewish community and it was an important and inspiring experience for the tweens to encounter as they learn about what it is to live by Jewish values. In the same vein is the Beit Halochem visit to our community which is being organized by Howie and Liana Brown. Beit Halochem helps wounded Israeli veterans and victims of terror rehabilitate and reintegrate into Israeli society. It is Beth Ora’s privilege to be hosting a group of wounded Israeli war vets in September. Last night was the first information meeting about this trip. If you would like the privilege of hosting a wounded veteran during the dates of September 3-17, please contact Howie on firstname.lastname@example.org or 514-956-1576.
To further our commitment to promote the message of kindness, our online newsletter will now include a section entitled “In our Thoughts, In our Prayers.” In this section, we will mention members of our community who are unwell or who have been bereaved. Many people ask the rabbis to pray for relatives and friends. Heshy and I are always happy to do this and we encourage you to continue to ask for this. We must also realize that the prayers of each of us are precious and that we should continue to be a community where we keep the needs of others in our own thoughts and prayers. The Rise Together Project, May 20-26, 2019 I am excited to let you know about a project that I have been working on for over a year which will involve over 20 Jewish institutions throughout Montreal! The Rise Together Project is based on the recognition that is a wealth of insights in Judaism that can help us to be better people. Whether it is becoming kinder, more patient, more honest with ourselves and others or being more disciplined, Judaism provides guidance and inspiration to help us get there. Another area of life that makes a difference to who we are is our community – the synagogues we attend, the schools our children and grandchildren go to as well as the broader activities of our Jewish community. The Rise Together Project seeks to emphasize Jewish teachings about becoming better people in schools and synagogues throughout the city so we can all support each other in a commitment to grow as people and as Jews. You can read more about the project and its underlying idea in my CJN article here. At Beth Ora, we are participating in the project with a fantastic Shabbaton featuring a rabbi who trains the FBI and has written a book on Batman! Please look out for the publicity for this event which is coming out soon. I also want you to note in your diary that Sunday May 26th is an important day in the Beth Ora calendar as we end The Rise Together Project with a big community event at Beth Ora which we are running in conjunction with seven other synagogues in Ville St. Laurent and TMR! The event will include fun activities for all ages, all of which are geared toward helping other people and expressing our gratitude to people who make a difference in our lives. The event will run from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM. It is very exciting to be running all these great programs at Beth Ora. With your support, we can succeed in moving closer to our vision of a community centre where all generations connect to their Jewish heritage and find meaning through giving and spiritual growth, in a vibrant, inclusive, caring environment. Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with… Praying in Space? A couple of months ago, I gave a series of brief talks at the Seuda Shlisheet about the times for praying the different services. Jackie Harroch asked how the laws are affected if one is an astronaut in space. So, what’s the deal? One authority, Rabbi Ben Tzion Firrer, writes that mitzvot are only applicable on earth. As a proof text, he cites the Torah in Deuteronomy: These are the statutes and judgments, which you shall take care to do, in the land, which the Lord G-d of your fathers gives you to possess all the days that you live upon the earth. Others argue that, with regard to prayer in particular, there should be no technical obligation for one who experiences a day without the phenomena of morning, afternoon and evening. Nevertheless, some hold that an astronaut ought still to pray the services as a remembrance. Another view is that of Rabbi Azriel Rosenfeld who writes that one should pro-rate the length of the day. For example, on Mars, a “day” is 24 hours and 39 minutes in earth time. So one should modify the calculations of the correct time for prayer appropriately. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Halperin questions this view. Some space travelers may experience 16 sunrises and sunsets within a 24 hour period. Rabbi Halperin argues that it is not likely that one would be required to pray the three daily prayers 16 times in 24 hours under those circumstances! Another view is to follow the same principle as one follows when one is in the Arctic Circle. We once discussed in this forum the laws for the time for prayer in places where (on some days in the summer) the sun does not set and where (on some days in the winter) the sun does not rise. As we mentioned then, the author of the Talmudic commentary Tiferet Yisrael, states that, at the North Pole, one should use the times for davening based on the location from where he came. For example, if one goes from Montreal to the North Pole, he or she davens at the same time residents in Montreal daven. According to Rabbi Dovid Heber, an astronaut would follow the same approach. Nevetherless, it’s interesting to note that observance can’t ever truly be simultaneous with one’s place of origin because of what is known as the relativistic twin effect. If one twin stays on earth and the other travels in space, when the traveler comes back he will be younger than his twin – he has actually experienced less time! Plenty to think about though largely academic for us non-astronauts!