Message from Rabbi Knopf - May 26, 2020
I hope that this letter finds you and your families safe and well.
As we approach the holiday of Shavuot, there are three primary messages I'd like to convey.
1. Join Beth Ora for a Packed Schedule This Week
Beth Ora is proud to present a range of wonderful online activities in advance of the holiday. Yesterday, Rebecca Starr presented a baking demo, bringing the community into the "cheesecake spirit"!
Today, we are privileged to welcome back Mrs Esther Hochstadter at 2:30 PM who will be presenting to the ladies of our community on the topic of "Preparing Ourselves Spiritually for the Giving of the Torah and the Yom Tov of Shavuot." You can join the session here. We also have our weekly Mincha/Maariv service this evening at 8:15 PM which you can access here.
Tomorrow, we invite all our children to meet Moses on the Mountain - a perennial feature of the Beth Ora Shavuot experience! You can join here. The distinctive custom of Shavuot is the late night learning experience. Each year, Jews gather together in synagogues to learn Torah, in honour of the festival. This year, our community has prepared an excellent learning program for Wednesday evening, from 7-10 PM. We are covering a range of fascinating topics including the Jewish view on conversion, the age of the universe and even the question of when to reopen the synagogue! Even if you don't normally attend the Shavuot program (and even if you can't stay for the whole program), I urge you to join us this year. It will be a treat! Click here to join.
The Yizkor prayer can be said without a minyan, and everyone is encouraged to say it on Shabbat (second day of Shavuot). Nevertheless, for those who would appreciate a collective experience, we will be having a short Yizkor service on Zoom on Thursday at 11 AM. You can join here.
2. Protecting Human Life
I am inspired by the love of our community for our synagogue! A number of you have asked me if we will have a service for Shavuot. According to Jewish law, it is imperative to follow the law of the land, especially when those laws are enacted to preserve human life.
More fundamentally, saving lives is our religious and communal priority. By not convening for services, we are continuing to fulfill the preeminent and fundamental mitzvah of preserving and protecting life.
Many of you will have seen the front page of the New York Times which shows the names of the 100,000 people in America who have died from Covid-19: Each one, an entire world that is lost. It is a stark and devastating reminder of why we have accepted significant inconveniences and disappointments in our daily lives.
Needless to say, this concern extends way beyond convening for services, and I urge each of you to exercise caution in your interactions as we make every effort to avoid the spread of this virus. We must always observe the law but, beyond that, our most important question is: Am I behaving safely and responsibly?
3. Yearning to Gather Again Once Again
And despite all that: with all the great online programs and all the imperative caution, we still look forward to the time we can pray, learn and socialize once again at Congregation Beth Ora.
I hope our Zoom sessions and other initiatives will carry on long after the lock down is over but there is nothing so special as being together in person.
With our prayers, patience and responsible behaviour, please G-d we will be together again before too long.
In the meantime, Carly and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe Shavuot.