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New York - Conservative Jews To Say Selichot at Ground Zero

Published on: September 6, 2009 08:25 AM
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New York - Two years ago, some 80 members of Temple Emanu-El in Closter brought their Selichot service to Ground Zero, offering prayers and stories at the site of the devastated World Trade Center.

“The solemn feelings [at the site] made it more potent and powerful,” said the congregation’s Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, noting that this year — with Sept. 11 and Selichot observances falling so close together — congregants will once again travel to lower Manhattan for the service.

The shul will hold “a traditional Conservative Selichot service” on Saturday night, Sept. 12, said Kirshner. A series of penitential prayers, Selichot takes place late on the Saturday evening preceding Rosh HaShanah.

“Selichot invokes the High Holy Days,” said Kirshner, “like a beacon or trumpet.” Using special prayer melodies that offer a foretaste of those used on the High Holy Days, “they are a wake-up call, reminding us of the High Holy Days.” The shul’s chazzan, Cantor Israel Singer, will join in the service, he said.

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Joining the members of Emanu-El will be Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, president of the New York Board of Rabbis — of which Kirshner is treasurer — and a chaplain of the New York Fire Department.

Potasnik, a first-responder in 2001, was also with the congregation at its service two years ago, when congregants “told stories in between their prayers,” said Kirshner. Speakers ranged from “people who lost friends, to physicians who worked at the site,” he said.

Kirshner noted that the service was made possible with the help of site developer Larry Silverstein, “who allows access to this area of Ground Zero.”

The rabbi added that members of the congregation will make Havdallah in the synagogue parking lot before leaving for New York. He expects more than 60 people to attend, he said, adding that he is not aware of any other congregation planning to hold a service at the World Trade Center site.

“Selichot is a time that puts a microscope on the month of Elul,” said Kirshner. “We blow the shofar every day…. It’s really a bell-ringing, telling us to prepare ourselves to usher in the new year.”

In addition, he said, “it’s a solemn time to make right what’s wrong between you and God, as well as you and other people, and to recalibrate” those relationships. Selichot, he said, reminds you “not to fall into your usual Saturday night customs but to do some soul-searching.”

The rabbi said it is important as Jews and as members of the wider community to keep alive the memory of those who died in the attacks on Sept. 11.

“We need to memorialize those who died needlessly on that day. It needs to stay in the frontal lobe of our memory so we don’t forget the reason they died,” he said.

Explaining that the holiday is about “asking for forgiveness and the ability to forgive,” he said, “it is our responsibility to do this in a place where it may be the hardest to do.” While those who will attend the service are certainly not ready to forgive the bombers, he said, going to a place of tragedy “brings a sense of solemnity and introspection,” just as people visit Poland to reflect on the Holocaust or go to a cemetery between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

He said he hopes the service at Ground Zero will accomplish two things — ushering in the season of reflection and renewal “and branding the memory of 9/11 in our daily actions. I’m afraid we’re reaching a state where we’re quickly forgetting.”

For further information, call the synagogue at (201) 750-9997.


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Read Comments (25)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 06, 2009 at 07:56 AM chusidnormal Says:

I like this idea!

2

 Sep 06, 2009 at 08:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Once again, the Reform and Conservative movements are in a perpetual struggle for relevance......how sad....

3

 Sep 06, 2009 at 08:42 AM stop Says:

think of reform and conservatives as teenagers who have gone astray, you dont bash them and toss them by the wayside, you wait patiently and try to provide them with clarity.

4

 Sep 06, 2009 at 08:41 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Once again, the Reform and Conservative movements are in a perpetual struggle for relevance......how sad....

What are you talking about. They are doing something meaningful and respectful. Would you say that orthodox jews praying at the grave of a rebbi are in a struggle for relevance. I don't see this as any different. Actually, isn't all religion and prayer a struggle for relevance in a seemingly indifferent universe?

5

 Sep 06, 2009 at 08:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Are they having the pre selichos social there too?

6

 Sep 06, 2009 at 10:18 AM Dovid in LA Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

Are they having the pre selichos social there too?

If that comment is ment to be sarcastic shame on you. I urge you not to be disrespectful of these folks. Do you think that by making comments it will further YOUR cause of bringing them into frumkite? If they read your comments and I am sure some will it will push them away from being frum. Dont forget that they are Yidden and a part of Klal Yisroel. Chabad welcomes all for a good reason. To teach and show them that being frum is beautiful and righteous.

7

 Sep 06, 2009 at 12:44 PM Mel Says:

Thats great, but so what! Do u keep shabbos? Its Korais, slichos is only a minhag,in which it says if u use 'H name w/o a head covering your wicked. Hey bro start with the basics!!!!!!!!!

8

 Sep 06, 2009 at 12:18 PM SELICHOT Says:

very appropriate place to hold this selichot services, the conservative movement is indeed in Ground Zero themselves!!

9

 Sep 06, 2009 at 02:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Once again, the Reform and Conservative movements are in a perpetual struggle for relevance......how sad....

What would be your comment if it was an Orthodox or Modern Orthodox shul doing this? How many people in your shul (which is probably frum based on your comment) actually get something meaningful out of mumbling slichos (which they parobably don't even understand)?

10

 Sep 06, 2009 at 01:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Mel Says:

Thats great, but so what! Do u keep shabbos? Its Korais, slichos is only a minhag,in which it says if u use 'H name w/o a head covering your wicked. Hey bro start with the basics!!!!!!!!!

And basics start with slichos. Maybe you should ask mechilla for the disrespect to your fellow yidden.

11

 Sep 06, 2009 at 01:31 PM Anonymous Says:

To #4 from #2:
I stand by my comment.....nothing more than a struggle for relevance for 2 dying movements....

12

 Sep 06, 2009 at 02:40 PM berel Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

And basics start with slichos. Maybe you should ask mechilla for the disrespect to your fellow yidden.

#10- you are ignorant of quite a few halachas regarding this subject

13

 Sep 06, 2009 at 03:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

To #4 from #2:
I stand by my comment.....nothing more than a struggle for relevance for 2 dying movements....

It sounds like with your attitude that you are the one struggling for relevance. People who are comfortable with their own choices and place in the world do not feel a need to put down others. I feel sorry for you.

14

 Sep 06, 2009 at 04:35 PM Rubber Ducky Says:

It's a good idea... wish we'd have thought of it! Makes selichos visceral.

15

 Sep 06, 2009 at 04:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Let's not get petty here, the conservetive movement was founded upon the utmost disrespect of the torah and chazal, the current leaders of these organisations are amei haarets of the first degree, the jts school is a practical joke, any 17 year old yeshiva student has more knowledge the there gradutaes in every field, a big portion of their membership is not halachikly jewish, the joke continues at ground zero, whilst they should be soulsearching about the sponsord chilul shabat the eating of treafus the disregard in torah misinai the law of family purity,they do a meaningless act of saying selicos at ground zero, I'm reminded of wat god told us at mount sinai "if u accept the law all is well,if not here shall be uy burial place

16

 Sep 06, 2009 at 04:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Rubber Ducky Says:

It's a good idea... wish we'd have thought of it! Makes selichos visceral.

You can't be frum if you think a Conservative congregation has a good idea. LOL

17

 Sep 06, 2009 at 04:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
berel Says:

#10- you are ignorant of quite a few halachas regarding this subject

I know I am ignorant. But one thing I do know is derech eretz.

18

 Sep 06, 2009 at 07:00 PM Anonymous Says:

The reform and conservative movements with their vanishing shul memberships are nothing more than progressive social movements. I agree with Quote #2. How about they go after the fur industry next...???

19

 Sep 06, 2009 at 11:06 PM Anonymous Says:

look what we've stooped to, defending conservative judism-whatever that means (to quote rav gifter ztl)

20

 Sep 06, 2009 at 09:22 PM chusidnormal Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

Let's not get petty here, the conservetive movement was founded upon the utmost disrespect of the torah and chazal, the current leaders of these organisations are amei haarets of the first degree, the jts school is a practical joke, any 17 year old yeshiva student has more knowledge the there gradutaes in every field, a big portion of their membership is not halachikly jewish, the joke continues at ground zero, whilst they should be soulsearching about the sponsord chilul shabat the eating of treafus the disregard in torah misinai the law of family purity,they do a meaningless act of saying selicos at ground zero, I'm reminded of wat god told us at mount sinai "if u accept the law all is well,if not here shall be uy burial place

is this true? Conservative movement does not keep kosher, taharas mishpacha? I'm confused, so why slichos? Can someone answer?

21

 Sep 07, 2009 at 12:02 AM Anonymous Says:

To # 13:
#11 is unfortunately correct. He is merely stating the numbers. If you are conservative or reform in America today, you have a 90% chance of your grandchildren being gentile. Sorry, but facts are stubborn things......

22

 Sep 07, 2009 at 07:05 AM brooklyn wife Says:

SHAME ON ALL OF YOU !!!! it's Elul and it's time for teshuva and reflection--show some achdus for pete's sake!! I see nothing wrong with what they want to do at Ground Zero. But even if you don't agree with them, this isn't the forum for it. Think Bais Hamikdosh and why we lost it. Ahavas Yisroel means love your fellow Jew--it doesn't say love only the frum Jew !! And to answer #20-- many conservative Jews do keep taharas Hamishpacha and most of them keep kosher as well. I used to live in PA and there was a large conservative congregation there and many of them used the mikva and most of them kept kosher.

23

 Sep 07, 2009 at 01:04 PM berel Says:

Reply to #22  
brooklyn wife Says:

SHAME ON ALL OF YOU !!!! it's Elul and it's time for teshuva and reflection--show some achdus for pete's sake!! I see nothing wrong with what they want to do at Ground Zero. But even if you don't agree with them, this isn't the forum for it. Think Bais Hamikdosh and why we lost it. Ahavas Yisroel means love your fellow Jew--it doesn't say love only the frum Jew !! And to answer #20-- many conservative Jews do keep taharas Hamishpacha and most of them keep kosher as well. I used to live in PA and there was a large conservative congregation there and many of them used the mikva and most of them kept kosher.

#22 is that so , and when was the last time you learned hilchos ahavas yisroel or is it you are just making up your own ahavas yisroel halachos? there is nowhere a halacha that i am not allowed to point out to these movements the error of their ways .aderabba, its a chiave to do that . all jewish movements who abandoned torah christian, conservative reform and down

24

 Sep 07, 2009 at 06:00 PM berel Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

What are you talking about. They are doing something meaningful and respectful. Would you say that orthodox jews praying at the grave of a rebbi are in a struggle for relevance. I don't see this as any different. Actually, isn't all religion and prayer a struggle for relevance in a seemingly indifferent universe?

#4... '...you dont see' what one does or doesnt see has to be backed up by halacha not what you personnaly 'see'. to be mispallel at kaver of a txaddik is beferish in the torah and braught in all holy writings. but

25

 Sep 08, 2009 at 08:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Potasnik is also the chief chapalain of the FDNY and a very close personal friend of rudy giuliani

26

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