From the Desk - The Nine Days
I hope that this letter finds you all safe and well.
Plans for Reopening
Over the last few weeks, we have enjoyed holding services on Shabbat morning in the tent in our parking lot. We are using this opportunity to test and perfect the safe implementation of all our protocols before returning to our building. Before we can move inside, we must ensure that everyone is observing these precautions properly. Those attending the services are asked to refamiliarize themselves with these protocols, listed at the bottom of this letter.
We look forward to the gradual and safe reopening of all our services, and the continued support and growth of our community during that process.
Relationship with the Shai Agnon Synagogue
As I’ve mentioned in earlier emails, we have had the pleasure over the last few weeks of developing a relationship with members of the Shai Agnon Synagogue in Jerusalem. We are looking into organizing one or two zoom meetings with a few members of each synagogue to chat about areas of common interest. Topics may include: The challenges of working from home and the tools, techniques and advice that can help us to be remote productive workers; Discussing books, offering suggestions of great reads and sharing e-books; Travel advice about places in Canada and the best things to do and see in Israel; Sharing Rosh Hashanah menus and recipes. If you are interested in joining one of these groups, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nine Days
This evening is the beginning of the Nine Days leading up to Tisha B’Av. During this period, we mourn the destruction of both of our Temples and the exile of the Jewish People.
One should not play musical instruments during the Nine Days. One should not buy new clothes during the Nine Days, unless they will be difficult to find or more expensive after Tisha B’Av. Hair cutting and shaving are prohibited, though some shave on Friday in honour of Shabbat.
Some of you will be familiar with the practice of not listening to recorded music. According to some halachic authorities, it is permissible to listen to recorded music, especially when it doesn’t have a rhythm that leads to dancing. I would encourage you to choose slower or classic music which is more appropriate for the time-period. That said, given the extra stress that many of us are going through at the moment, it is permissible to listen to other types of music this year if this is needed to relax.
Although there has been for many centuries a practice on limiting washing during the nine days, hygiene habits have greatly changed in recent decades. Therefore, one who feels uncomfortable when refraining from washing may shower in lukewarm water. The idea is that the washing is for cleanliness rather than for enjoyment.
Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days (except on Shabbat) because they are associated with both joy and the Temple service. One is allowed to drink wine at Havdallah.
It is the practice not to wear freshly laundered clothing during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Undergarments, for health reasons, are generally not included in this ruling. One can prepare several changes of clothing by wearing them briefly or putting them on the ground for a few minutes. Cleaning little children’s clothing is fine.
The laws of the Nine Days are a little different for Sephardim. If anyone has any questions of clarification relating to the Nine Days, please email me at email@example.com.
Stay safe and stay connected,
Rabbi Anthony Knopf
Expectations for Those Attending Services at Beth Ora
Joining Beth Ora’s services implies full acceptance of the guidelines stated below:
The wearing of a mask is compulsory at all times for everyone, as soon as you are on the synagogue parking lot. Everyone who comes must bring their own mask and wear it the entire time.
During the service, as well as while entering and exiting, congregants should maintain social distance of two metres. There should be no congregating before or after prayers, and no food or drink served.
Hand disinfection using disinfectant gel (provided by the community) will be compulsory at the entrance of the tent.
Participants are to bring their own prayer book and tallit from home. On Shabbat, we will have some printouts of the Torah reading available. As we won’t have enough for everyone, we ask that those members living in Ville St Laurent who do have a Chumash please bring their own.
Participants should not sing during these services.
There will be no access to the synagogue building under any pretext, including bathroom use, or retrieving books or Tallit.
Anyone attending the service agrees that if, G-d forbid, they are found to be COVID-19 positive, they give permission that all other minyan attendees will be notified of their COVID-19 positive status so appropriate contact tracing can occur immediately.