Thursday, April 28, 2011

Passover Message, 5771

Nissan 5771
April 2011

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you and your families well.

We often take for granted Passover’s connection with spring. The holiday always takes place in the spring, and of course the Seder includes spring symbols such as the karpas and the egg. That Passover should take place in the spring is not a forgone conclusion. If we had a pure lunar calendar, Passover would start about ten days earlier each year, and over a few decades, would actually take place in every season of the year. Our sages created a calendar with a lunar foundation, but with the provision of an additional month (Adar sheni) added seven times in a nineteen year cycle. Why all the effort? The Torah states explicitly that God brought us out in chodesh ha-aviv, “the month of spring.” Rashi explains that God treated us with special kindness by bringing us out of Egypt at a time that was “neither hot nor cold nor rainy.” It has been a long and hard winter here in New York. I am grateful, at long last, to feel the warmth of the new season, the trees beginning to the flower and to see the sun finally coming out. As we enjoy spring, we should remember that this too is a kindness from God and we should use it to recall how God rescued us long ago, but ultimately, enabled us to be here today.

We are proud to report that thanks to your generous response to our emergency roof appeal and the help of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, which has agreed to loan us the reminder of the money on favorable terms, the work on the new roof is almost done. We are thrilled that the new roof will protect the shul for the next generation and will allow us to continue restoring the building.  Our next projects are installing emergency exit hardware on all the doors in the sanctuary and repairing and repainting the tin ceiling. After that, we hope to take down the paneling, upgrade the electrical system, rebuild the plaster walls and restore the decorative stenciling.

We have had an impressive array of learning programs this year. Daniel Fridman a rabbinical student at Yeshiva University, continues to give his excellent shiur every Sunday morning, and since the fall, we have been fortunate to have had a series of thoughtful Shabbos lectures given by Wendy Amsellem of the Drisha Institute, Mishael Zion of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Raphy Rosen of Columbia University, and Professor Rabbi David Flatto of Pennsylvania State University.

Under Rhonda Taylor’s leadership, we now have women’s group that meets every month on the Sunday before Rosh Chodesh. Funded by a grant from New York State, and led ably by Dr. Eliott Kahn, we are hosting a phenomenal Jewish music series. The most recent program was a wonderful concert with the Avram Pengas Ensemble, which featured Sephardic and Israeli music. We look forward to future events.

This year is the one hundredth anniversary of our founding, in June 1911. We are organizing a gala anniversary dinner, which will take place, G-d willing, on October 30, 2011. I am proud to announce our honorees: Gloria Landy, Dale Brown, Avi Terry, and myself. Please save the date for the dinner. We hope you will join us.

As you may know, Mrs. Chana Kret passed away in November 2010. She was a wonderful person in her own right – warm, outgoing and optimistic - and also a true ezer kenegdo, a partner with Rabbi Kret in everything that he did. Together Mrs. Kret and Rabbi Kret led our congregation, officially for forty eight years and also informally for many years after Rabbi Kret’s retirement. They are both deeply missed.

Although Rabbi and Mrs. Kret are no longer with us, we are striving to maintain their spirit of welcoming newcomers, warmth, and Torah. We are also working to keep our building safe and usable for generations to come. Please continue to support our efforts, and with your help the Old Broadway Synagogue will continue to be a very special and very holy place for years to come.

Warm regards for a happy and kosher Passover,

Paul Radensky

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