President’s Rosh Hashana Message 2019/5780
My Dear Friends and Members of the Young Israel of
SHANA TOVA! A HAPPY, HEALTHY, PROSPEROUS and PEACEFUL NEW YEAR to each and every one of you, and your families. As I sit in front of my computer, preparing my Rosh Hashana bulletin message and my 3rd Yom Kippur address, I cannot help but feel how things change but remain the same. Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme chose! consistent, I would say. This year we also enter into a new decade, 5780 – Tav Shin Peh. Six months ago, for our Passover bulletin, I wrote, “As I write these words, Israel’s election is a toss-up.” Once again, in an almost mirror image situation, Israel’s election on Sept 17 is again a toss-up, albeit with 37 parties taking part and not some 49 as in the last one. Seventeen different parties are currently represented in the Knesset, while 52 different parties are
registered within Israel’s electoral system. Given the complexities of Israel’s political system, who knows what to expect? I believe I will leave this topic for another time, but let us all pray for the wisdom of Israel’s leaders, whoever they may turn out to be.
It’s been a rough six months for many of us. A number of old time members have passed on, reducing our daily and Shabbat minyans. Many of us have had both family members pass on as well as health problems that persisted. In my own family, my lovely wife Zila lost her 96-year old mother and her
74-year old brother-in law in the space of 6 months. I myself was hit by debilitating shoulder pain in August, putting me out of commission for 3 weeks, and followed by hip replacement surgery, from which I am now recovering very well B“H, as I sit and write these words. But…we’ve also had many simchas, with milestone birthdays and anniversaries within our ranks, that makes life truly worth living, as we share these simchas with our fellow congregants. In that respect we are truly blessed. That’s what living is all about. Someone once said – you only live once.
THAT is blatantly not true! We only die once – WE LIVE EVERY DAY! It is what we do with our living that distinguishes us from others. Every day, every NEW day gives each and every one of us the opportunity to do something better than we did the day before; whether it’s on a secular level of eating a new food, travelling to a new place, reading a new book etc etc, or on a spiritual level by coming to shul once or twice more than usual, thus allowing someone to say Kaddish for a loved one, or by performing a new Mitzvah that you had never performed before, or an old one that you perform regularly. Rabbi Banon, in a recent Shabbat sermon, indicated that each Mitzvah stands on its own merit; we are not in a race to see how many we can accumulate; there are no frequent Mitzvah points that allow us a
freebie Mitzvah or to bypass a Mitzvah.
That is a lesson to be learned.
This September 30 – October 1, corresponding to 1-2 Tishrei, the entire Jewish Nation around the world celebrates our New Year, similar to ones we have been celebrating for the past five thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine years. That’s pretty consistent, I would say. This year we also enter into a new decade, 5780 – Tav Shin Peh.
What can we, the members of the Young Israel of Chomedey learn from Rosh Hashana – the New Year? For starters, each and every one of us must make an accounting of our soul, a Heshbon Nefesh, which will hopefully guide us throughout the coming year. As an accountant and there are a few of us hiding here and there, we know of balance sheets, of income statements, etc. It is the same with a Heshbon Nefesh, where we balance our good deeds against our bad ones (hopefully few!!!) and come
up with a positive balance sheet with no debts.
How do we do this in shul? We must more than ever physically support our shul, not only by honouring an Aliya pledge, or donating a bottle, or even sponsoring a Shabbat Kiddish, but by coming to shul for services once or twice a week, allowing members who have Yahrzeit to say Kaddish for a loved one. We should try – each and every one of us with no exceptions – to
make a concentrated effort, on Shabbat and Holidays when the Torah is read, to refrain from talking up a storm as we are wont to do more often than not, and to preserve the sanctity of the Shabbat and the Torah reading. We must learn to refrain publicly from criticizing our co-congregants when they do something different than what we might have done, or when they make mistakes, and instead focus on what we all can do to make it better. We must respect each other for our differences, because while G-D created us all in His image and we are all G-D’s children, nevertheless, we are all different. And we must support our shul more often than most of us do by being involved in whatever way we can.
My friends. Your Executive has been busy this year to make your shul a “heimish” place of worship. Today, our shul is but a shadow of what it was in its heyday – but led by our ever dynamic Rabbi Avram Banon and the entire clergy – full-time, part-time, all the time – and your Executive who is devoted to the shul, all of whom are continually striving to make it more
welcome to you and your families, our shul will endure for many
years to come B”H.
It is an honour for me to be your President, and I wish to thank you for your trust in the Executive by electing us for a further one-year term. On behalf of my dear wife Zila, and the entire Executive, I would like to wish each and every one of you, a Shana Tova u’Metuka, a sweet year with naches and health from all your loved ones. Amen!
Isidore (Issie) Baum