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Rabbi Lazer Gurkow
Dear Members and Friends,
Yasher koach to all of you who participate regularly, and to some of you on occasion, to make our small shul vibrant and spiritual. Your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
On Thursday, February 16th, a general meeting of the membership was held at the synagogue discussing a number of items relating to budgetary concerns. Last year the synagogue would have run a deficit of about $33,000 had it not been for money received from an estate. Realizing that we cannot rely on estate monies to come in every year (although estate money is greatly needed and appreciated), the board has set out to further trim its expenses and raise revenue. In my opinion, two very important points came out of the meeting: our dues are too low so we must have a higher minimum annual dues rate like most other shuls, and secondly we may need to have a different chazan for the high holidays. We are addressing both concerns. So far I can tell you that Cantor Rosenwasser will be coming back for the high holidays thanks to the generosity of two donors. The dues issue will be discussed at the board level soon.
I want to thank those who supported our annual raffle this year. First prize, the 32" Sony TV, went to the Laxer family and second prize, the Beta Photos sitting and 8" by 10" photo enlargement, was won by Morris and Maxine Levin. The raffle netted about $2000.
The turnout for the March 13th evening Megillah reading for Purim was outstanding. We had a very large and talented band, dancing, children's entertainer, costume contest and of course plenty of L'Chaim's. A fun and meaningful night mostly thanks to the Gurkow family.
A search committee was initiated at the last board meeting to find a replacement for me. This is my fifth year as president and it's time for me to move on to the Past President's role. I have considered it to be an honour to serve you in this role and I look forward to working with the new president. Have a great Pesach!!! Chag Kosher V'Sameach.
The Rabbi's mid winter lecture series covered two subjects this year, Lashon Hara and Kibud Av V'eim. Both subjects are often misunderstood and these lectures were designed to dispel much of the ambiguity that surrounds these subjects.
The first lecture focused on the harm caused by gossip and why this prohibition is so central to the Jewish experience. The lecture went on to present the various forms of forbidden gossip and slander, and the circumstances that may be considered exceptions. Of course, the rabbi took many questions culled from real life experiences, which stimulated constructive and informative discussion.
The second lecture began with an outline of the sources and reasons behind the commandment to honour our parents. The lecture moved on to explain the parameters of this obligation. What our parents may expect from us and what they may not. What our duties are towards our parents and how we might choose to go beyond the call of duty.
Once again many questions were asked, many thoughts were presented, launching a stimulating and informative discussion.
Beth Tefilah held a lively party this year on the night of Megillah reading. A special Yasher Koach goes to the many members of our volunteer band (Shi Sherebrin, Tom Klinger, Lisa Klinger, Liora Santopinto, Monty Caplan, Ted Medzon and Avi Brown).
The Rabbi led several songs and much of the dancing. Dr. Block was on hand with his usual adult beverages. Animal balloons, face painting (Yasher Koach to our painters, and Tali Zinger) and a magic show rounded out the program for the children.
A most successful Masquerade contest was held. Every contestant won a prize (very Canadian-like and very Politically Correct.) Contestants' groups were divided by age and a panel of three judges chose winners based on creativity of costume (very unCanadian-like and politically VERY incorrect).
A special Yasher Koach to the three judges, Fabian Gorodzinsky, Avraham Santopinto and Sharon Richmond. Yasher Koach also to Dr. Block who helped to fill in while Avraham was called to the stage to compete against members of his own age group.
Despite the timing of Purim this year, during the High School March Break, the Megilah reading was attended by record crowds. This is the first year that all the prizes were distributed, with nothing left for next year. This was not due to a dearth of prizes but to an abundance of costumes. A special Yasher Koach to the Bottner family for donating the prizes and for distributing them to the contestants.
The Sisterhood began their schedule with an evening hosted by the Bottner family entitled â€œManaging the Business of your Household.â€ Sandra Safran presented a number of helpful tips on how to streamline the everyday task of household management and how to juggle its many details with a minimum of effort.
The presentation was very well received and enjoyed by all. Many positive comments were heard during the social hour that followed the presentation. Yasher Koach to Sandra and good luck to all household managers...
The Beth Tefilah Sisterhood followed this program with a five-part lecture series offered by Rebbetzin Basie Gurkow and hosted by the Levin family. The series concentrated on three fundamental Mitzvos in Judaism -- Shabbat, Kashrut and family purity. Rebbetzin Basie did a masterful job in weaving together many different sources to create wonderful lectures that sparked much stimulating discussion.
Plans are under way for further Sisterhood programs in the spring including cooking presentations on Challah and other delightful recipes that are sure to enhance your Shabbos table.
Torah High continues to meet every Thursday evening at the Rabbi's house where boys and girls of high school age learn about the many Jewish holidays and Torah mitzvos. The Rabbi presents the Torah and rabbinical sources for each mitzvah and then a discussion is launched on the meaning and rituals of the respective holiday.
To date, the subjects have ranged from Kashrut and modesty to Chanukah and Purim. Plans are underway for discussions on Passover and Kibud Av V'eim. Torah High will continue to meet on a weekly basis until the end of the school year and then break for the summer.
Pesach always comes hard on the heels of Purim (as if I need to remind you. . . hey?). It is not far off now and Beth Tefilah will, of course, offer its annual Kashering day. Join the Rabbi at the Beth Tefilah kitchen on Sunday afternoon, April 9 from 1:00 â€“ 3:00 PM. Bring your pots, pans and kitchen utensils. Please consult with the Rabbi about the materials you want to kasher and about the proper methods of pre-kashring preparation for each type of utensil.
A special Pesach discussion is scheduled for Thursday evening, April 6, at 7:00 PM. During this time the Rabbi will present on a number of Pesach topics and will also be available to answer questions that relate to this complex Jewish holiday. For a full presentation of the laws and customs related to Pesach, please check the hilchot Pesach article of this Newsletter or look it up (during weekdays only, please) on the Beth Tefilah website www.bethtefilah.org.
Plans are currently under consideration for the upcoming all-night Shavuot learning session and the Rabbi's Spring lecture series. If you have an interest in any specific topic or subject matter that you would like presented this year, please feel free to contact the Rabbi with your suggestions.
Topics currently under consideration are Jewish Meditation, Gender Roles in Judaism and the Advent and Development of Chassidic Judaism.
Shavuot falls on Friday and Shabbat, June 2 and 3. The all-night learning session will be held throughout Thursday night, June 1 (technically the morning of Friday June 2). The lecture series this year will be held on three consecutive Monday evenings, June 12, 19 and 26.
As this newsletter goes to print, we bid farewell to Sara Fried who has directed our Junior Congregation program for two years. Sara has done marvelous work with the children who all spoke highly and lovingly of her. Sara, we will miss your presence at Junior Congregation and wish you well in your future endeavors. We are certain that a bright future awaits you wherever you may turn.
We are currently seeking to hire a new Junior Congregation director. If you have any potential candidates in mind, please contact the Shull office.
We would like to share our condolences with:
May you be comforted by the heavenly source of comfort and may you find solace in the embrace of your family and friends. May your dear departed loved ones always be a source of inspiration to us all and may we live together for many happy and healthy years.
There have been a number of births in our Beth Tefilah family since the last newsletter went to print and on behalf of the entire congregation we extend mazal tov wishes to:
The Duvdevanis chose the biblical name Noa for their daughter. We are familiar with the Noah, the biblical figure, but Moti and Carmit named their daughter after a different Biblical Noa, not the one who survived the flood. This Noa was one of six sisters, whose father passed on, but left no sons. The sisters approached Moses to discuss issues of a daughter's inheritance and G-d issued a new law in their merit. (Bamidbar 27: 1.)
From the bottom of our heart we wish Bracha, Mazal and Hatzlacha to all three families. As you have merited to usher your babies into material life, so you may you succeed to usher them into lives of Torah, Chupah and good deeds.
On Shabbat, 20th Shevat, February 18, our congregation sponsored a special Kiddush to honour our new members. We would like to welcome the following families who have joined our growing membership family in the last six months.
The following is a brief synopsis of the laws pertaining to the preparation for the Passover holiday. This article is meant only as a cursory overview. For more detailed information, please contact the Rabbi.
The Torah tells us that one may not possess, or harbour in one's home, food articles that fall under the category of Chametz, leavened bread. Our sages have instituted the obligation of Bedikat Chametz, search for Chametz, on the evening of the thirteenth of Nissan, the evening of Erev Pesach.
In order to lighten the load that is sure to fall upon the shoulders of the searchers on the day before Pesach, it has become customary to clean the house thoroughly of Chametz several weeks before Pesach.
Many people clean the entire home and all of its nooks and crannies in preparation for Pesach. There are two reasons for this: (a) one can never know where a piece of Chametz may lie hidden and (b) it is an opportunity to beautify the home in honor of the holiday.
From a purely obligatory point of view, one is only required to clean the area of the home that is usually used in association with Chametz, for example, the kitchen and dining room area, kitchen cabinets, pantry, children's play room, bedrooms, etc. Note that even if you have a no food rule in certain areas of your home, you can not be certain that food was not brought into those rooms through the year.
Unfurnished basements and attics that are used for storage purposes only and are not used on a regular basis may be considered Chametz free. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to generally clean these areas as well, just in case.
It is important to clean the pockets of clothing, especially children's clothing, since crumbs are also liable to fall into pockets while eating. In addition, many also put food wrappers, etc. in their pockets. Books should also be cleaned if they are left on the table together with food.
When cleaning your Kitchen and dining room chairs, care should be taken to clean under the cushions since Chametz crumbs naturally fall into these cracks. When cleaning your car, make sure to clean under the seats and in all places into which Chametz may have dropped
Many families have a separate set of pots and cutlery for Pesach. However, if you need to Kasher your pots for Pesach, the Shull kitchen will be open on Sunday afternoon, April 9 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for this purpose. Rabbi Gurkow will be on hand during this time to help you with any questions you may have
Kashering your sink, oven and stovetop for Pesach are also options that will allow you to use them during Pesach. This is a complicated procedure, and the Rabbi should be consulted before Kashering
There may be certain food items that you do not wish to dispose of or certain utensils that you find difficult to clean thoroughly. These items may be sold to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesach.
These items should be stored in separate closets or rooms that are locked or at least taped shut for the duration of the Chag.
It is also possible to sell the Chametz of an entire building such as an office building that will not be used for Pesach or your home if you will be away for Pesach.
Since there are many legal intricacies regarding the laws of this sale, one should entrust a competent rabbi with the execution of the sale. The rabbi acts as your agent both to sell the Chametz to the non-Jew before Passover begins and also to buy it back on the evening after Passover ends.
Once sold, one may not make use of these articles since they have technically been sold to someone else. However, an assumption can be made that the rabbi did not sell the Chametz more than an hour before the deadline and that he has repurchased the Chametz about thirty minutes after Yom Tov.
Please look for the sale of Chametz form here.
All items, not just food items, used in the kitchen during the holiday must be Kosher for Passover. There are many items that we do not usually associate with Chametz but that contain starch or other manner of Chametz. It is important to look for the Kosher for Passover sign on the products that you purchase during this time.
There are also many products that are not listed as Kosher for Passover but that have particular brands that are kosher. The list includes hand soap, dish and laundry detergent, paper towels, etc. If you have any questions with regard to a particular product, please contact the Rabbi.
The mitzvah of searching for Chametz begins on the evening of the 13th of Nissan. This year the thirteenth will fall on Tuesday, April 11. The obligation to search for Chametz begins at nightfall, which in London, Ontario will be at 8:47 p.m. It is important to refrain from engaging in activities that have the ability to preoccupy one's mind for thirty minutes prior to nightfall. This is for fear that one may forget to perform the Mitzvah.
The search begins with the recitation of the appropriate blessing, which can be found in the Siddur. It is important to begin the search immediately upon the conclusion of the B'racha and to avoid unnecessary interruptions throughout the course of the search.
It important to search for Chametz in all the places described above in the section for cleaning Chametz, especially the corners and the carpet lines where Chametz is often left unnoticed.
At the conclusion of the search, we place all the Chametz that has been found into a bag and place the bag out of reach of small children and pets. The "Kol Chamira," which can be found in the Siddur, is recited immediately after the search for the Chametz.
The prohibition against harboring and eating Chametz begins at midday of Erev Pesach. For precautionary purposes our sages ordained that we dispose of Chametz a little more than one hour before noon and refrain from eating Chametz a little more than two hours before noon.
These hours are determined in the following manner. The total number of daylight minutes of a given day are divided into twelve equal segments with the resulting number comprising the length of each hour. In this way, every day of the year is divided into twelve daylight hours.
Midday on Erev Pesach this year will fall in London, Ontario at 1:26 pm. Chametz must be disposed of by 12:08 pm and Chametz may no longer be consumed after 10:50 am.
Disposal of Chametz is traditionally done by fire. The second prayer of "Kol Chamira," which can be found in the Siddur, should be recited during this time.
It is a tradition for all first born beyond the age of Bar Mitzvah to fast on the day before Pesach to commemorate the miracle of being passed over during the plague of the first born. (Fathers fast for first-born children who are still under the age of Bar Mitzvah.) Since Erev Pesach is a festive day, it is customary to avoid fasting on this day through participating in a meal connected to a Mitzvah such as a Bris or a Siyum (conclusion of study) of a tractate of Talmud. Having broken the fast for the purpose of this meal, we may now continue through the day without fasting.
This year this fast will take place on Wednesday morning and a Siyum breakfast will be arranged at the Shull immediately following morning services. Morning services are scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM.
Though it is permissible to cook on the Chag (Jewish holiday) it is only permissible to cook that which one might reasonably expect to consume on the day of cooking. It is forbidden to cook for the needs of the following day. When a Chag falls on Friday it is forbidden to cook food on Friday for Shabbos unless one has previously performed an Eiruv Tavshilin.
To perform the Eiruv one must take a cooked food and a baked food in hand before the Chag begins and read the text that is found in the Siddur. One then hands the food over to another Jewish person who recites the blessing (also found in the Siddur).
Though the rabbi performs the Eiruv on behalf of the entire community every household must perform a seperate Eiruv. Please contact the rabbi if you have forgotten to perform the Eiruv.
The following lecture series are available from Rabbi Lazer for $10 per audio CD. As more lectures become available, they will be posted here.
Please note that each lecture series is also available on a single CD in MP3 format, at a cost of $30 per series ($18 for Relationships).
We thank Dansanman Studios who provide a discount on CD duplication costs for Rabbi Lazer's lectures.
The Rabbi maintains a discretionary fund that is used almost exclusively for London-based charities. This fund is also used for a variety of family needs and, in the recent past, has helped families in dire straits with basic household needs, helped to send children to Jewish camp experiences and has helped to arrange for Kaddish to be recited on behalf of Jews who passed away and left no one behind to recite Kaddish.
This account is funded by the charitable donations of our members and the community. The last six months have been particularly busy because many families have applied for assistance. If you would be so kind as to consider making a tax deductible contribution to the discretionary fund, you would be in a position to help others discreetly.
The Talmud teaches that the highest level of charity is one performed anonymously, where the donor has no knowledge of the recipient and the recipient has no knowledge of the donor. The Rabbi's discretionary fund allows for one such opportunity, as both donations and charities are held in the strictest confidence.
You may either send your tax deductible donations directly to the Rabbi or addressed to him at the shul office. Cheques should be made out to the Beth Tefilah Rabbi's Fund.
Thank you very much!
We appreciate the support given to us by our Friends. A minimum donation of $18.00/year will put you on our Friends list. This donation is used to help offset the cost of compiling and mailing this newsletter as well as other programs undertaken by the Shul. All donations are eligible for a tax receipt. Call the Shul office at 433-7081 if you need more information.
If we have inadvertently omitted anyone who donated between September 1, 2005 and March 29, 2006, please call the office at 433-7081. We will be happy to include you in our next newsletter.
Congregation Beth Tefilah - 1210 Adelaide St. N., London, Ontario, Canada N5Y 4T6
Phone: (519)433-7081 Fax: (519)433-0616
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