Dear Bet Shalom,
We are taught in the Talmud, in tractate Shevuot, that kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh – the whole House of Israel is responsible for one another. Functionally, in Jewish law, this became the basis that we must keep each other from misdeeds when we see another member of the community faltering toward unacceptable behavior. Practically, this same principle has come to mean that when a member of the community experiences something in life, from celebration to bereavement, we all experience it together.
This week, our Jewish brothers and sisters and their families on the North Shore have experienced bereavement, and we, the whole House of Israel share in their pain. Many of our Bet Shalom members hail from Duluth. Or their parents did. Or even their grandparents or great-grandparents did.
As many of you have likely heard already, this week the historic Adas Israel Synagogue burned to the ground early Monday morning. The building is destroyed, but by a stroke of luck, many of the synagogue records and ritual items including eight of their 14 Torah scrolls were kept in the basement which was a stone foundation built into the side of a Hill and these items were recovered by the firefighters.
The community is very small and still determining what their needs are and how the many concerned members of the greater Jewish community of Minnesota and beyond might help. But in the meantime, they need our condolences for their loss.
To those members of Bet Shalom who trace their roots through Duluth, please know that all of us are here for you. We’d love to know who you are and we would like to hear your stories of the place the “3rd Street Shul” holds in your hearts. I hope you’ll share those stories with us in celebration of the more than 100 year history of that congregation as its current members determine its future.
As we enter Shabbat this week we are reminded that kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh – the whole House of Israel is responsible for one another and we share your pain even if indirectly.
I wish you each a Shabbat Shalom – a restful Shabbat full of peace.
Rabbi David Locketz