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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Congregation’

New York’s Oldest Congregation to Appeal Ruling on Newport Synagogue $7.4 Million Grab

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

New York Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the US, announced it would appeal to the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals last month’s ruling by US District Court Judge Jack McConnell in Providence that the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island is the rightful owner of very expensive silver Torah ornaments. Judge McConnell also severed the ownership of the NY congregation over the Newport synagogue building.

Back in May, Federal Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ruled in favor of congregation Jeshuat Israel which resides in Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, and against Shearith Israel of New York which had claimed ownership of the edifice and its contents.

The $7.4 million dispute between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations erupted in 2011, when the Newport Touro synagogue congregation, known as Jeshuat Israel (Heb: salvation of Israel), offered to sell the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston two silver Torah ornaments called “rimonim” (Heb: pomegranates) for $7.4 million. But the ornaments, like the rest of the synagogue, were the property of Congregation Shearith Israel, currently residing on West 70th Street in New York, and they were not amused when they heard of the sale.

Members of the Newport congregation told the court that the reason they had to sell the ornaments—which were made by Jewish American Silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795)—was that their numbers were starting to dwindle and they could no longer afford to pay a rabbi.

Shearith Israel trustee Michael Katz testified that “we were aghast that they were doing this without informing us in advance. We considered it a violation of the lease. We considered it a violation of trust, and it upset us very, very much.”

According to AP, Congregation Shearith Israel on Tuesday issued a five-page statement disputing McConnell’s ruling: “Shearith Israel’s goal has been and remains to ensure that the Touro Synagogue, including the precious rimonim, remains intact, available for the continued use of Jews as an active place of worship and the continuous benefit of all people of faith as well as all those touched by its rich and inspiring history,” the statement said.

Back in the early 1900s, the NY congregation leased the Touro building to a newcomer Jewish congregation in Newport for $1 a year (which, in today’s value, comes to $1.87). They didn’t believe this generous lease empowered the tenants to sell off parts of the synagogue, and certainly not its multi-million dollar artifacts.

JNi.Media

Young Israel Congregation Youth Program For All Ages

Monday, June 6th, 2016

The Young Israel Congregation, serving the communities of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor, and Surfside, has become famous for its innovative youth program. Rabbi Avi Fried and his staff have accommodated youngsters from tots to teens in a fun-filled atmosphere.

A very special fun summer trip for all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders is planned on Tuesday, June 14 to Busch Gardens in Tampa. (E-mail RabbiFried@yicbh.org to reserve a spot.)

Father and child learning continues on Saturday nights. Children learn and enjoy ice cream and prizes.

High school teens are invited to learning and frozen yogurt every Wednesday night. Contact Rabbi Fried for times and locations.

Shabbos groups for children from ages 2 to 13 meet every week. They daven, participate in activities, have yummy refreshments, and receive tickets for really incredible prizes.

Young Israel Congregation is located at 9580 Abbott Avenue in Surfside. For more information about the youth activities, call Rabbi Fried at 305-866-0203.

Shelley Benveniste

Rhode Island Residents Riled About Anti-Semitic Attack on Local Synagogue

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Police in Pawtucket, Rhode Island continue to investigate a hate crime after a big red Nazi swastika was found spray-painted on the welcome sign of Congregation Ohawe Sholam.

Worshipers found the swastika on Sunday. It was painted on the sign for the Kollel Center for Jewish Studies outside their Orthodox synagogue.

A news conference was held Monday morning by city and religious leaders, who condemned the vandalism.

“It can’t be tolerated, it shouldn’t be tolerated, and it won’t be tolerated,” said Rabbi Raphie Schochet. “This symbol that’s been blotted out over here is a symbol of bigots and bullies.”

Officials immediately condemned the crime.

“The police department will go through any neighborhood video, hopefully we can catch anyone coming from or leaving the scene,” said Pawtucket Police Chief Paul King. “We’re asking neighbors, we’ll check Facebook, but what we really need is the help of the public. If you thought you saw something that looked a little bit off – please notify us.”

“The vandalism that has occurred at Congregation Ohawe Sholam in Pawtucket is demonic and depressing,” said Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

“I’m angry and disgusted,” said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) . “This despicable act of vandalism has only one purpose – to intimidate members of our community and it won’t succeed.”

Congregation Ohawe Sholam president David Pliskin told local WPRI-TV in an interview that Holocaust survivors among the congregants found the graffiti to be a painful reminder of the past. “This is the kind of thing that makes your whole body roil inside if you’re a Jew,” he said. But for those who survived the death camps, “It’s like someone trying to stab you in the heart again.”

Ohawe Sholam is the only synagogue in Pawtucket.

Pliskin rejected claims the graffiti might have been a childish prank. “This person clearly had some knowledge,” he told WPRI. “A lot of people draw the swastika with a cross, but this person has actually done it the way it was done on the Nazi flag, with an ‘X’.” He called it a hate crime.”

Nor has it been the first.

Last October, flyers were distributed just a few blocks from the synagogue with an illustration of a hooded man bearing a rifle, captioned, “Revolution is the only solution to Jewish pollution.”

But Pliskin also said the community has been incredibly supportive. One person gave a blanket to cover the sign. Another offered money to repair it.

‘The immediate result has been an outpouring of compassion and many acts of kindness from the entire community,” Pliskin said. ‘We should be thankful there are so many good and wonderful people around us.”

The city’s Department of Public Works has taken the sign off-site and is in the process of restoring it, according to WPRI.

Hana Levi Julian

Judge Awards Newport, RI Synagogue to Congregation Despite NY Landlord’s Claim

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Federal Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ruled in favor of Jeshuat Israel which resides in Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, and against Shearith Israel of New York which had claimed ownership of the edifice and its contents, the NY Times reported Monday.

The $7.4 million dispute between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations erupted in 2011, when the Newport Touro synagogue congregation, known as Jeshuat Israel (Heb: salvation of Israel), offered to sell the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston two silver Torah ornaments called “rimonim” (Heb: pomegranates) for $7.4 million. But the ornaments, like the rest of the synagogue, were the property of Congregation Shearith Israel, currently residing on West 70th Street in New York, and they were not amused when they heard of the sale.

Shearith Israel trustee Michael Katz testified that “we were aghast that they were doing this without informing us in advance. We considered it a violation of the lease. We considered it a violation of trust, and it upset us very, very much.”

Back in the early 1900s, the NY congregation leased the Touro building to a newcomer Jewish congregation in Newport for $1 a year (which, in today’s value, comes to $1.87). They didn’t believe this generous lease empowered the tenants to sell off parts of the synagogue.

Bea Ross, of the Newport congregation, testified that she had informed Katz of the sale, but not directly. In 2009, there was a Forward article about the sale of the rimonim, and she and Katz talked about it over the phone. Apparently, that call didn’t leave as much of an impression on Katz.

The $7.4 million rimonim / Newmans, Ltd. report

The $7.4 million rimonim / Newmans, Ltd. report

Members of the Newport congregation told the court that the reason they had to sell the ornaments—which were made by Jewish American Silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795)—was that their numbers were starting to dwindle and they could no longer afford to pay a rabbi.

Rabbi Marc Mandel, formerly the associate rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, Ca. has been the Jeshuat Israel spiritual leader since 2011.

Incidentally, the reason the NY congregation has owned the Newport synagogue in the first place had to do with the declining numbers of Newport’s Jews in the late 18th century, when Shearith Israel took over the building and remained its caretaker as it stood empty for almost a hundred years.

Katz told the court that his congregation saw itself as strictly the landlord of the Newport synagogue, and not responsible for its financial problems (they had come asking for help).

On the face of it, the case looked like it should have gone to the New York congregation, but the local paper, Times Argus, reported prior to the trial that the state of Rhode Island was monitoring the case and planned to intervene with the judge to make sure “justice would be done.” Now the ruling has cleared the way for Jeshuat Israel to sell the rimonim, valued at $7.4 million—there are 130 members left in the congregation, so “justice” in this case could net them $57,000 each, before court costs. Or it could pay the rabbi’s salary and maintenance.

“The central issue here is the legacy of some of the earliest Jewish settlers in North America, who desired to make Newport a permanent haven for public Jewish worship,” Judge McConnell wrote in a 106-page decision, disregarding the fact that said legacy had been interrupted for as long as a century, and that what he facilitated was the removing of $7.4 million from the possession of a New York congregation, its legal owner, and handing it over to a local group that couldn’t pay its own way.

JNi.Media

Chabad House Hosts Joe Kaufman For Lunch & Learn

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

The Chabad House in Miami Beach hosted a lecture and “the best lunch in town” on Wednesday, July 11, at its location, 669 Lincoln Lane North. The congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Zev Katz, started the program with a dvar Torah. The talk was followed by guest speaker Joe Kaufman, who spoke on the direction of political movements in the Middle East and the Maghreb. Kaufman’s presentation was titled “Arab Spring or Nuclear Winter?”

Kaufman is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, energy independence and Middle Eastern and Southern affairs. He has been a lecturer for the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and his articles can be found at FrontPageMag.com, the Hudson Institute, Pajamas Media and National Review. Kaufman is also a candidate for United States Congress.

The riveting talk was followed by a delicious lunch sponsored by Scott Abraham in loving memory of his father, Shalom ben Chaim Menachem.

For more information about the Chabad of Miami Beach adult education series or other activities contact Rabbi Katz at 305-CHABAD1 or visit www.chabadonwheels.com.

Shelley Benveniste

Q & A: Tisha B’Av And Mourning

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Editor’s note: We interrupt our “Chazzan and Congregation” series for this timely discussion on Tisha B’Av. Part IX of “Chazzan and Congregation” will appear next week.

* * * * *

Question: I was taught that due to our state of mourning on Tisha B’Av, we are not allowed to learn or discuss Torah – a topic that makes us happy and weakens our mournful state. Why, then, are we allowed to read from the Torah at Shacharit and Mincha on Tisha B’Av? Also, does the halacha of not learning apply to a regular mourner as well?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Yoreh De’ah 384:1 (based on Mo’ed Katan 15a) states, “During the entire seven-day period [of mourning], a mourner is forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Gemara, halachot and aggadot – except if people need him to teach them. In such a case, it is permissible.”

We also find a similar ruling regarding Tisha B’Av, our national day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, as the Mechaber notes (Orach Chayim 554:1).

The reason behind the prohibition, according to the Shach (Orach Chayim ad loc.), is the verse in Psalms (19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev, mitzvat Hashem barah me’irat eynayim – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart. The commandment of Hashem is of such clarity that it enlightens the eyes.” Torah has the power of offering unique enjoyment and pleasure. A mourner in his bereavement is not supposed to enjoy this delight.

It is interesting to note that this Shach is at variance with the Mechaber who gives a different source for this halacha. He cites Mo’ed Katan 15a, where we learn that a mourner is prohibited to utter words of Torah since Hashem stated (Ezekiel 24:17), “He’anek dom – Sigh in silence.” Hashem only precluded Ezekiel from any manifestation of outward sorrow. All other people were supposed to publicly mourn, explains Rabbenu Chananel, explicating the position of our sages.

The Gemara (in Ta’anit 30a) states that all customary restrictions on an ordinary mourner during the seven days of mourning apply to the community as a whole on Tisha B’Av. However, there is a difference. On Tisha B’Av, one is prohibited from eating and drinking (Rashi s.v. “asur be’achila uvi’shetiya” explains that these two restrictions apply only to the mourning for the Temples’ destruction).

The Gemara in Ta’anit explains that one is prohibited from (washing and) anointing, donning (leather) shoes, and engaging in marital relations. One is also forbidden to read from the Torah, Prophets, Writings, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, as well as halachot and aggadot. However, one is permitted to read material that he usually does not read. (Rashi s.v. “be’makom she’eino ragil likrot” explains that since this material is beyond the mourner’s familiarity and understanding, it actually causes him distress.) One may also read Kinot and Job and the elegies in Jeremiah.

Young schoolchildren – tinokot shel beit rabban – should remain idle (i.e., we do not study with them on Tisha B’Av), in accordance with the verse (Psalms 19:9), “Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev – The commands of Hashem are right; they gladden the heart.” R. Yehuda disagrees and states that the learning restrictions apply even to material that one is unfamiliar with. The only exceptions to the no-learning rule, he maintains, are Job, Kinot, and the elegies in Jeremiah.

In any event, we see that both verses apply: the verse from Ezekiel as well as the verse from Psalms.

Regarding the reading of the Torah in shul on Tisha B’Av during Shacharit and Mincha, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 554:4) writes as follows: “One is permitted to read the complete order of the day [i.e., the order of the daily prayer service] as well as the portion of the korbanot, the Mishnah of Ezehu Mekoman (Tractate Zevachim, chapter 5) and the midrash of Rabbi Yishmael (Beraita, in Sifra). (The latter three constitute the portion of tefillah referred to collectively as korbanot.)

The Rema adds that one is allowed to review the parshah on Tisha B’Av. However, both the Ba’er Heiteiv and Mishna Berurah (ad loc.) note that this applies only to the chazzan, who reads the Torah publicly for the congregation. His reading and advance preparation are obviously considered tzorech ha’tzibbur (a public need).

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VIII)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shlichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amidah, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amidah). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amidah after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Modim D’Rabbanan is discussed in the Gemara in Sotah. Rav offers a text to recite for Modim and Shmuel, R. Simai, and R. Acha b. R.Yaakov all add more verses to recite. R. Papa says to recite them all – hence the name “Modim D’Rabbanan,” the Modim of (all) the Sages. Our Modim text also includes additions by sages listed in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan. Rabbi Soloveitchick acknowledges the similarity between the recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan and the practice of reciting pesukim during Birkat Kohanim, discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. He cites R. Chanina b. R. Pappa, who argued against doing so, as does the Tur (Orach Chayim 128). Others favor the practice. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Sefer Kol Bo (siman 11, hilchot tefillah) points out that the gematria of Modim equals 100, corresponding to the 100 blessings that a Jew is required to say every day (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 46:3, also see Tur ad loc. who attributes this enactment to King David). I pointed out that the number of words in the opening paragraph of Modim added to the number of words in Modim D’Rabbanan (Nusach Sefard, exclusive of the concluding blessing) also yields the number 100. These gematriyos hint at the importance and efficacy of reciting Modim.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-chazzan-and-congregation-part-viii/2012/07/11/

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