Over the last three weeks I davened at four different Synagogues.
- Sephardic Shul of East Boca Raton – Parshas Re’ah – August 22, 2014 –
- Congregation Yagdil Torah. East Boca Raton – Parshas Ra’ah – August 23, 2014
- Anshei Sholem, Chicago – Parshas Shoftim – August 30, 2014
- KJBS, Rabbi Franks Shul, Chicago – Parshas Ki Tza’zah – September 6, 2014
As I am writing this at 9:15 PM, Sunday September 7th, my daughter is on her flight to Israel for her year at seminary at Michlala. She should have a successful year of study in Israel. I was excited for her as a number of her high school friends were on the flight.
August 22, 2014 – Sephardic Shul of East Boca Raton – Parshas Re’ah:
I got to the regular East Boca Shul at 7:45 PM, however, they prayed earlier at 7:00 PM. I asked where the Sephardic Shul was located and I got blank stares. One guy knew where it was and he walked me part of the way. I arrived at the Sephardic Shul at 8:30 PM, forty minutes after sunset. The streets were isolated and pitch black, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I found a ray of light in the darkness. I was very happy to be able to pray properly despite the late hour. They were at Lacha Dodi, halfway through the services. It was a typical Sephardic congregation, with a number of people in colored shirts and blue jeans. Everyone is accepted in Sephardic Shuls. Services were over at 8:55 PM, over one hour after sunset. Sephardim really pray. There is zero tolerance for talking. Sephardim as a community have inherited the true legacy of prayer service.
August 23, 2014 – Congregation Yagdil Torah. East Boca Raton – Parshas Ra’ah:
This is the only Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Shul in the world. Very nice. The Rov is a Talmud Chochem. I met a friend from Toronto who has a vacation home in East Boca. I told him a Vort from Rabbi David Wolkenfeld, which is a Professor Nechama Lebowitz Lomdeshi explanation. During the week I Davened at Yagdil Torah. On Wednesday night, the Rov gave a Shiur as part of their JEC – Ba’al Tshuvah program. It was on the seventh of the Rambam’s 13 essential beliefs of faith. It was excellent and I asked the Rov why this is not taught in Yeshivas.
I love speeches. The Rabbi’s speech on Shabbos morning was good and compelling. It was a Mussar speech, which linked together Reb Yisroel Salanter, the Chofetz Chaim, and others in the world of Mussar. A friend in Telz Stone used to send me his Rabbi’s Shabbos speeches. Every speech was Mussar and I let my friend know that he is missing the richness of Torah. I rarely hear a Mussar speech, as most Rabbis speak about a great insight into the Sedra, the greatness of Klal Yisroel, and current events.
August 30, 2014 – Anshei Sholem, Chicago – Parshas Shoftim:
One of my favorite Shuls in America. I went to hear Torah from the Rov. I sat down for the Torah reading and as I read the weekly bulletin, I saw that my friend’s daughter is getting married, and the Auf Ruf of her groom is at Anshei Sholem that Shabbos. I looked around and did not see my friend. At the upstairs main Minyan there was a Bat Mitzvah. I ran downstairs and the Auf Ruf was at the early Minyan. I saw my friend and wished him a Mazel Tov, hugged him, and told him I am crashing his daughter’s Labor Day wedding. My study partner from Beis Midrash was also at Anshei Sholem, and my Toronto’s family acquaintance from the Sha’ari Shomayin Shul in Toronto was at Anshei Sholem visiting his children. I got married at the Sha’ari Shomayim Shul in 1980. He told me that the Rov from that time, Rabbi Hoshander is still living in Toronto. I read some of Rabbi Hoshander’s speeches from the 1960s in the RCA speech manuals. They are rather good.
I did crash the wedding. Many people I knew from Boca Raton were in attendance and I stayed to the end of the wedding. I was very happy for my friend as he mentored my daughter in Boca Raton. I met his family. The Lubavtich Shilach from Brandeis University was there and he knew my two cousins’ kids who are students at Brandeis. He took a selfie of us two and sent it to my cousin’s kid. I saw Rabbi Perry Tirschwell of Young Israel Synagogue services and reminded him that the last time I saw him was a year earlier at my cousin’s wedding in Baltimore.
September 6, 2014 – KJBS, Rabbi Franks Shul, Chicago – Parshas Ki Tza’zah:
Rabbi Dr. Meir Yaakov Soloeveichik was scholar in residence. He spoke three times and I heard all of his speeches. They were excellent. He said some great stories of Menachem Begin. He talked about Margret Thatcher’s Rabbi, Lord Emmanuel Jacobowitz. It is a great story of the Chief Rabbi Jacobowitz being a “light to the nations of the world”. Reb Shamshon Raphael Hirsch’s true student.