The Beth Ora Family During COVID-19
Shalom Beth Ora Family,
During this time of uncertainty when each of us is struggling to come to grips with the current situation, we at Congregation Beth Ora offer you our love and support. Cancelling the programs and prayer services in our building was a difficult and painful decision. Jewish communal life thrives on togetherness. If each of us were to think of our most beautiful Jewish memory or our most wonderful memory of Congregation Beth Ora, our minds will probably take us to a place where we were surrounded by other people. It pains as all that we cannot physically convene at this time to do the wonderful things that we do in the Beth Ora building.
That said, it is more important than ever to remember that Beth Ora is not the name of a building; it is the name of a community. This has always been true, but it is a truth we need to hear now. The special bond that we share with one another, the legacy that we each have inherited from our forebears, the mission and vision that we have set for our community: each of these endure amidst the current pandemic.
Our task now is to find the ways in which we can continue to share meaningful times and to live our values even in these extraordinary circumstances. In particular, we need to explore ways in which we can each be there for one another amidst the challenging circumstances and anxieties. Baruch Hashem, we are blessed today with technology which, a generation ago, was beyond imagination. We will be looking at ways to use this in order to thrive as a community and to rise to the challenge of the moment in ways in which we can be proud. We will be in touch with you about these ideas in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, please see below for some very important community messages.
The Beth Ora Family: Reaching Out to One Another
As you know, it is important that anyone over 70 and anyone with other medical conditions that deem them “high risk” for COVID-19 should stay home as much as possible (indeed, this applies in great measure to all of us). With that being the case, there are many people in the community who are spending a lot of time alone. Some of those people will be anxious about ensuring that they have enough food and medicine, and how they will adapt to these new circumstances. Given this, we are calling for volunteers of any age to call elderly members of our community at this time. This is in order that our members know that, even as we are no longer holding events in our building, we are still a strong and caring community. It will also allow us to assess the essential needs of our membership during this difficult time. We are also calling on our members under the age of 70 who would be happy to assist with any groceries or other errands that are needed during this difficult period.
This is really the time to rise to the challenge of showing how strong our community is and how much we care about our fellow community members. Please click on this document to tell us how you can help. Similarly, if you need help with groceries or errands, please click on the same form.
If you know of someone who needs help but cannot fill out this form, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Similarly, if you know of someone who could particularly use a phone call from me, please let me know.
Some of our members have been saying Kaddish for a recently deceased family member. Others have yahrzeits coming up in the coming days and weeks. I understand that it is very difficult for those who have shown such commitment to say Kaddish, now being unable to do so. Nevertheless, we must be mindful that, in Jewish law, our responsibility to keep healthy and to preserve the health of others takes precedence over the ascent of a soul.
There are, however, other things you can do for the elevation of the soul of your relative. One thing you can do is to learn what is called a Mishnah, a short rabbinic teaching. Perhaps the most famous part of the Mishnah is Pirkei Avot (Chapters of the Sages). You can access Pirkei Avot in Hebrew and English here. I would encourage you to have a look through these teachings and contemplate one or two of them that resonate with you. Have in mind that you are doing this in memory of your relative. I would similarly encourage you to recite Psalm 16 in either English or Hebrew.
In England, the synagogues are still running, in accordance with guidelines from the government and public health experts. If you would like, I would be happy to arrange for someone in England to say Kaddish for your relative (as long as the services in England continue). Please email me at email@example.com or call me at 514-714-6559 and I’d be very happy to facilitate this.
Hebrew Free Loan
The Jewish community is mindful that there are people facing the prospect of several weeks without pay. To meet this need, the Hebrew Free Association will be offering interest-free loans for Jewish borrowers affected by the Coronavirus who live in Montreal and the surrounding areas.
For more information, please see the Hebrew Free Loan Association Website under the loans tab, www.hflamtl.org.
There is so much more to say and do and I will be in regular contact with you over the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, please continue to pray for an end to the suffering and anxiety which has beset the world at this difficult time.
Rabbi Anthony Knopf