A friend’s synagogue was vandalized; here’s how we can help

Dear CBI members and friends,

Many of you may remember my friend rabbinic student David Markus, who has co-led services with me here before (last spring; this past November) and will do so again (February 25 and March 17 this spring.)

Along with Rabbi Shohama Wiener, David serves as associate spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El of City Island, “your shul by the sea” — which was vandalized last weekend just before Shabbat. The windows were smashed; precious silver (Torah crowns and kiddush cups) was stolen. I mentioned this on Facebook recently, and Pattie Lipman suggested that perhaps our community might be able to help their community — hence this message now.

Reb David and Reb Shohama offer some reflections on the burglary and its meaning. Here’s how their reflections begin:

At a recent gathering of rabbinical, cantorial and rabbinic pastor students, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi reminded that it’s okay to view a synagogue as a business — so long as we know what kind of business we’re in. Our business always must be to inspire, empower, comfort, heal, teach and serve in holy community — to uplift the world’s shards of brokenness into the light.

We returned from that gathering to shards of broken glass in our synagogue.

(Read the whole essay on David’s blog — it is powerful and meaningful.)

I am collecting donations, which I will send on to Temple Beth-El of City Island at the end of this week. (Here’s my post about that on my own blog: Passing the virtual hat for a vandalized shul.) If you would like to contribute even a few dollars toward the restoration of what was lost, and to lift the spirits of a community which is feeling battered and hurt, there are two ways you can do so. One is, you can send the money to me using PayPal — please send it to my “home” email address, rbarenblat (at) gmail (dot) com. Alternatively, you can make out a check to the CBI Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, and I will collect those donations and write a check to Temple Beth-El from that discretionary fund.

Our sages teach us that it is a mitzvah to give tzedakah just before Shabbat. One reason for this, of course, is that traditionally one would not carry money on Shabbat, and so there can be no financial support given on Shabbat itself; giving money before Shabbat is therefore a way of ensuring that one is not derelict in one’s obligation to help those in need. But another reason is that giving tzedakah primes one’s spiritual pump, as it were. When we give to those in need, we open our own spiritual channels through which blessing can flow, both into us and through us.

I know that these are tough financial times for many of us. But if you can spare a few bucks for TBE, I know they would appreciate the help — and the blessings which come with it. Thank you.

Take care,

Reb Rachel


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