Rabbi Finkelstein


As I have indicated in earlier communications with the congregation, we are incrementally approaching a new type of normality in terms of our services which are now taking place daily, morning and evening. I am very satisfied with the social distancing between congregants of at least two metres, and the fact that all of our participants are masked, following the guidelines set up by health officials in Ottawa.

As we are now in the beginning of July, I remind our congregants of the need to register for services by clicking here and choosing which services to attend.

When we first started services, we were following the guidelines set down by different rabbis, Rabbi Asher Weiss, Rabbi Herschel Schachter and Rabbi Mordechai Willig in terms of how the Torah was to be read. We are going to modify this procedure, and proceed to re-introduce normal aliyot to the Torah with the following provisos: (This new procedure has been put forth by Rav Sternbuch in Israel, and has been adapted by other shuls including the Young Israel of Ottawa.)’ The Baal Koreh, as before, will be taking the Torah out of the Ark, and will do Hagbah/Gelilah as well as put the Torah back in the Ark. However, we are bringing back regular aliyot, such as kohen, levi, yisrael. The person receiving the Aliyah to the Torah will stand two metres behind and to the side of the Baal Koreh, and recite the berachot (blessings) over the Torah, after the Baal Koreh shows him the place. However, he will not kiss the Torah. The rationale for allowing this type of Torah reading is based on two considerations. First, the person called comes up to the Torah but stands two metres away as described above. The second, as Rav Sternbuch explains, the person receiving the Aliyah can simply listen to the reading to fulfill his obligation, similar to a blind person who is allowed to receive an Aliyah. Though this is not optimal, this new procedure enables the calling of different people for Aliyot. It is understood that if the person called to the Torah can read his own portion without having to rely on the Baal Koreh, that he has his Aliyah normally as in the Pre-Covid Era (PCE). It goes without saying that the person having the Aliyah is masked.

The Gabbaim will not be distributing honours prior to the Torah reading unless requested by a congregant who may have yahrtzeit, simcha, etc. The Gabbaim will call people up from the membership lists that they have. In addition, the Gabbaim will not be standing next to the Shulchan, but will be standing two metres away. Mi sheberachs will be said, and as in years past the recitation of the prayer for those who are ill will allow for a pause for people to insert names quietly This procedure will be applicable on Shabbat, Yom Tov and on weekdays. No names will be said aloud.

SERVICES-TEFILLOT=PRAYERS- We are expanding opportunities for prayer services, in the following areas: 1) The person leading the service on Shabbat must use Nusach for Shabbat davening.2) The baal tefillah in conducting services must ensure there is no repetition of words of any kind. In this phase of our tefillah evolution, we have to be mindful that repetition lengthens the service unnecessarily, and it is important that though we are not rushing the service, we do not prolong it either. Health authorities have stated their opposition to choral and to congregational singing. From a practical point of view, singing through a mask is not optimal.

We shall reintroduce the prayers for Canada, Israel, IDF consecutively. We will not be singing the prayer for Israel, simply reciting it. During this phase, there will be no speeches, no announcements. Prayers start at the beginning of Pesukei Dezimra at 9AM., One postscript: This past Shabbat, I gave a class between Mincha and Maariv. That will continue. That session dealt with Covid-19 and tefillah adjustments. This coming session will deal with the topic: Synagogue Etiquette or How much can the congregants take? An analysis of the topic of Tircha Detzibura.