2010-03-05 / Columnists

Point of View

Some things don’t change!
“The Rabbi’s Personal Column” Rabbi Allan Blaine Temple Beth-El, Rockaway Park
Last week’s 17 inch monster snowstorm reminded me of an article I wrote 32 years ago after a similar snowstorm – it’s worth repeating.

SNOW ON THE SABBATH

Our little community – 4 blocks from beach to bay – was snowbound with the rest of the eastern seaboard on the weekend of January 21st. Our pleasant suburb looked like a winter wonderland. One went to sleep in a serene and tranquil world only to awaken and find the earth blanketed in thick, deep snow. There is something about snow which both delights and terrorizes. The children are in ecstasy – no school. They hastily don layers of clothing and romp about in the snow. We only see them when they return for dry gloves and steaming cups of cocoa. For the rest of us snow is a colossal headache. Traffic comes to a screeching halt. A city of millions is virtually paralyzed. Work stops, traffic does not move, all the machinery of everyday living comes to a halt – buses, trains – parkways. Everything is postponed, delayed, called off…with the exception of one thing – Shabbat!

Neither snow, nor sleet, nor rain can impede, delay or postpone the arrival and celebration of Sabbath day – Shabbat.

On Friday morning the snow reached 16” in our community; strong winds coming across Jamaica Bay created drifts almost two feet. As the day progressed, it became increasingly difficult for normal activities to continue and yet, as the sun began to set in western skies, Temple Beth-El ushered in its Kabbalat Shabbat Service at its Little Synagogue and I am proud to inform all of our readers that Services were held with a proper quorum.

The next morning the situation was even more difficult. Snow turned to ice – perilous to walk and treacherous to drive. One could see some few adventurous people with skis traversing Cronston Avenue. Yet Shabbat Services did take place! And while the Synagogue was not filled, a beautiful Service was held in our Main Sanctuary.

Looking out at the Congregation once again reinforced my belief that the preservation of the institution of the Sabbath is of paramount importance for the survival of Jewish life; the reading of the Torah, the chanting of the prayers, the words of inspiration, the ingathering of Jew, younger and older, the actual “celebration of life” which goes on each Sabbath morning; all giving meaning to everything we do and everything we hold sacred.

We are a small people, 2% of the population of this nation and 4/10 of 1% of the world population; but, on the seventh day of the week, by joining with our fellow-Jews in Synagogues and Temple, we suddenly achieve majority status – and what a wonderful feeling it is!

To paraphrase the words of the modern Jewish philosopher, Achad Haam, “In its 3,000 years, more than the Jew has kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jew.”

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PASSOVER IS COMING! PASSOVER begins on Monday evening, March 29th and concludes on Tuesday, April 6th.. Services will be held on Tuesday morning, March 30th and Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. Evening services are at 7:00 p.m. A Passover Kiddush repast will follow each service. All Are Welcome!! For a copy of our special Passover Brochure with the “do’s and don’ts” of the holiday visit the Temple office, 201 Beach 121 Street (trailer). –

Happy Holidays.

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This monthly column continues with thanks to an anonymous donor.

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