Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tisha ba-Av at Old Broadway

This past Monday night, July 20, 2010, Tisha ba-Av evening, our teacher, Daniel Fridman, opened his remarks with a surprising statement. He said that he probably should be forbidden from attending Tisha ba-Av services at the Old Broadway Synagogue. The reason is that he gets so much joy at seeing the shul open or Tisha ba-Av. Indeed, this is only the fourth year that Old Broadway is open for Tisha ba-Av in particular and or the summer in general. For many years, the shul used to be open year round, during the summer and also for daily minyan. The daily minyan was discontinued in the 1970s, and I suspect that so was meeting in July and August. It made sense, since the shul was not air conditioned and Rabbi Kret and Mrs. Kret and the other survivors made their way to the Catskills to escape the heat of the city. Now most of us do not go to the Catskills and, thanks to the generosity of the Plaks family (in honor of the Eric and Gloria's wedding), the shul has had air conditioning since 2006. Summer 2007 was the first summer we decided to stay open. I made a list of all the Shabbosim and made sure that we would have enough people for at Shacharis each Shabbos. Thank God, we were successful, but I was nervous that we would not pull it off. When it became clear that Old Broadway was also viable during the summer, it felt that we brought a dead person back to life. Not that the shul was ever dead, but the more active we can make it, the better. In this way, it can serve us in the present and enable to deepen our Jewish commitments. God willing, having a vibrant shul will also be a valuable gift for the future members of our congregation. Finally, dedication today demonstrates that the hard work of the previous generations has not been in vain, and their hopes and desires continue to live on.