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Who Let the Jews Out

Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 11:44 am

Izzy Nathan attended Shul every day of his adult life until his 95th birthday. When he abruptly stopped coming, the Rabbi came to see him and asked, “Izzy, why have you stopped coming to Shul at the age of 95 all of a sudden? Aren’t you grateful to G-d for blessing you with such long life?” Izzy replied, “Rabbi, I am very thankful, but I am avoiding Shul so as not to remind G-d that I am still alive.”

It is widely known that many more Jews attend Synagogue for High Holiday services than for a regular Shabbat service. There are numerous sociological explanations for this; and I am certain that they are all plausible and applicable to some extent. However, the Jewish mystics offer an alternative explanation. They explain, that during the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur there is a phenomenon called “Kiruv Hamaor El Hanitzutz” – The Light Source approaches the spark, thus causing the spark to become enlivened and be drawn back to the Light Source. In simple terms, G-d brings Himself closer to us and consequently we are drawn back to Him, consciously or subconsciously.

The challenge is, that once “they” come to the Synagogue it is the task of the Synagogue leadership to make them want to come more often. I always say that, if asked which two days to attend Shul, I would reply Simchat Torah and Purim. In other words, we must make Shul attendance a meaningful experience rather than one they cannot wait to be done with until next year comes around.

In a similar vein, a Jew once approached the fourth Chabad Rebbe with a query. He only has 30 minutes a day to study Torah. Should he study Halacha or Chassidic texts? The Rebbe replied Chassidic texts. When asked by his Chassidim, “doesn’t Halacha take precedence so the Jew should know how to live as a Jew?,” the Rebbe replied, “yes, but if he studies Chassidic texts he will suddenly discover more time in his day for Torah study, including Halacha.”

We need to make the most of the High Holiday shul experience so that our fellow Jews, especially the youth, will view it not as burden but a joy.

Mazel Tov to Bleama (Shaffer) and Yisrael Kamen upon their wedding this week. We welcome them (back) to New Orleans as they join our community.

Mazel Tov to Fruma and Mendy Schapiro upon their son Schneur’s Bar Mitzvah.

Mazel Tov to Shayna and Shaya Gopin upon the birth of their son.

Condolences to the Berman family upon the passing of their brother, Nathan J. Berman.

A warm New Orleans welcome to our newest Shluchim, Rabbi Mendel and Chaya Mushka Ceitlin and their daughter Zelda. They have just moved to town to join the staff of Chabad of Metairie.

Regards from Southern California (here for my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah) and Shabbat Shalom

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