Colors: Green Color

I have been privileged to write for the Queens Jewish Link for a number of years. Sometimes I step into turbulent waters, sometimes I stay on water’s edge. But I try to be honest in conveying my thoughts, and judging from the feedback, that is what readers appreciate about my articles. What I am about to write may be the most controversial to date, but for me it may be the most important one.

Many years ago, when I started applying for a position in the rabbinate, my father half-jokingly told me to watch out for shuls that have self-aggrandizing names. For example, if a shul is named “Rodfei Tzedakah” (pursuers of charity), they are likely miserly. If they call themselves “Anshei Shalom” (people of peace), they are probably strife-ridden. Naturally, this was just whimsical and should not reflect on any particular shul in reality. As a young cynic, I asked my father if that means that Young Israel synagogues are really for the elderly. At least he had a chuckle.

The other day, I was discussing our shul’s Tish’ah B’Av schedule with our gabbai. I had proposed two minyanim for Minchah, one in the early afternoon and the other around 8:00 p.m. He reminded me that we need time for people to go home and eat the S’udah HaMafsekes, the customary meal before the fast begins. I was frozen in my tracks. I had completely forgotten about that. How could I?! It’s a basic custom, part of this most solemn day on the Jewish calendar.