I wiped off the dust from the old binder and flipped carefully through its pages: a letter from the minister of Education, Zevulun Hammer, a visit from the Prime Minister, Yitzchak Shamir, a request for support to purchase seats, a thank you note for borrowing a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) . . . and so hours passed like the blink of an eye. Another binder and another folder, another story and another board meeting . . . Twenty five years means a generation and also a community! This is true also for our Community – Ohel Efraim. In reaching our 25th anniversary a generation has passed. The generation of founders worked day and night in order to establish the first Ashkenazi Synagogue in the Ariel, working hard to obtain a structure, furniture, Sifrei Kodesh and a minyan. We are the second generation, the continuation and we hardly realize what was done in order to come to this era where our synagogue stands and flourishes. The differences between the two generations are great.
A title on a page caught my eye . . . from somewhere in the eighties. I ran to my computer and opened a folder My documents/Ohel Efraim/life cycle events/bar mitzva/ “Guidelines for a bar mitzva”. The printed page in the folder and what I see on the screen match exactly, the same things, just one generation later! Both now and then families from the neighborhood came to Ohel Efraim to celebrate their Bar Mitzva on Shabbat, then and now we gave guidance so families could feel at home. The similarities between the two generations are great.
Maybe the scenery in the past twenty five years have changed, but the principles are the same: a synagogue which is a place to serve all the city’s residents, a place where every family can feel at home, where everyone can come and connect to their Creator. Just like the half shekel donation to the mishkan (tabernacle): “The rich should not increase [his donation] and the poor should not decrease.” With the half shekel, everyone brought the same thing. What was done with this money? It was melted down to create the foundations of the mishkan. The mishkan was established on the contributions of the entire congregation. Everyone had a part in it and everyone could feel connected to it.
These thoughts echoed in my head as I sat in Ariel’s Cultural Arts center and listened with pleasure to the Chazannut of Yisrael Rand, laughed with the stories of Shlomi Goldberg and joined in with the songs from the soul of Shlomo Carlebach, surrounded by shul members, residents of Ariel and friends from across the country. Everyone felt connected to Ohel Efraim.
Translated by: Dr Yael Maizels