Jewish Leaders: Synagogues Should be More Accessible (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 02/27/12)
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Hundreds of synagogue gabbais (treasurer-managers), heads of
religious local authorities and rabbis from Israel and around the
world participated in a special conference in Jerusalem on Sunday
The conference was organized by the Besheva group, which includes the
weekly Hebrew newspaper Besheva as well the Arutz Sheva website.
Other organizers included the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Union
of Synagogues in Israel.
At the center of the conference was a call by the synagogue leaders
to open the gates of the synagogues to the general public.
“Synagogues must open to everyone, and the gabbais and community
members should invest in an endless effort for unity among the people
of Israel,” Dudu Saada, the chair of the Besheva group, said during
the conference. “This is an important call which unfortunately is not
obvious to many people in Israel. This perception must be changed
from the root.”
Rabbi Avichai Katzin, Dean of Beit Midrash Reisheet in Ra´anana,
spoke of a feeling of alienation among many secular visitors to the
synagogues, which he said must be changed by connecting the public to
the synagogue and making the synagogue also accessible to those who
are unfamiliar with the liturgy.
The participants in the conference brought forth ideas for new
projects that would be implemented in the coming year, in Israel and
in Jewish communities worldwide, in order to connect the secular
public to the religious public and give access to synagogues to the
population at large. Israel´s Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Amar,
joined the call and noted that the synagogue is a place of
brotherhood and friendship between all parts of the nation, and that
hearts must be opened for the unity of Israel.
The climax of the evening was the handing out of awards to selected
gabbais from across the country in recognition of their leadership.
Among those gabbais who were selected following the recommendations
of a special committee headed by the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, Rav Yona
Metzger, were also two women. The two are Nitza Smilansky of Kibbutz
Ein Harod and Tikva Tzemah-Shavit from Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar, both
secular kibbutzim which have had active synagogues for years, as part
of their desire to maintain Jewish tradition.
The Kibbutz synagogues hold prayer services for those members who
wish to pray. As well, Bar Mitzvah ceremonies are held for children,
classes are held for the entire public, and other activities
revolving the Jewish life cycle are held throughout the year.
(IsraelNationalNews © 2012 02/27/12)
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