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The Everlasting Table

Friday, 23 April, 2010 - 3:42 pm

Last Sunday one of our community members, a kind woman named Mrs. Ireta Fisher-Cowall, invited me to attend a meeting about a fantastic event that she is currently planning, and which you will be hearing about some time soon.

When we first arrived at her house she didn't allow us to sit down, and quickly summoned us into her sunroom, where she displayed a nicely designed wooden table.  Then she began a very intriguing story:

"About 40 years ago I bought this wooden table at an auction in town. But I noticed that its unique design had something strange about it.  At the edge of the table there was a plaque with nothing written on it. Decades later, a friend advised me that 'sometimes people might not like what is written on a plaque, but instead of getting rid of it, they turn it upside down.' Just as I was beginning to turn the screws, I felt inexplicably sure that the plaque would be in Hebrew... And guess what? I was right!"

Then Ireta turned to me and said: "Would you please read for me what this says?"

"This is the donation of Reb Yisrael Garfinkel to the Maczikei Hadas v'Shomrei Shabbos synagogue, 1930," I read. In fact, it turns out that the table is from a Shul in Europe before the war, and somehow made its way to an auction in British Columbia. And so in an amazing case of divine providence, despite our small community here, it has ended up yet again in Jewish hands.

So now, I've been working diligently with two Jewish boys named Sergey and Lawrence (ie. google) to track down the synagogue and perhaps members of the Garfinkel family. I hope I'll have some interesting information to share with you next week.

In the meantime this interesting discovery is having an impact on our Shul. In Europe there were two different kinds of Shuls. The "Official Synagogue" which looked like auditorium, had rows of chairs facing the "Mizrach."  The other kind of shul was the "Shtibel"  which means "Home-style;" it had a friendly personal atmosphere, which would usually include tables in order to make sure that would be a comfortable place for all. I always wanted "Chabad Family Shul" to be a Shtibel, where it would feel less like a "concert-hall" and more like a home. For several reasons it hasn’t happend yet, but now Reb Yisrael Garfinkel has reminded me that I shouldn't wait any longer.

I have contacted Mr. Don Chambers, who built the rest of the Shul furniture for us. We made a plan to build beautiful wooden tables for our Shul, costing $4,000. I have two sponsors for half of the sum, but we need another two, if you will like to be part of it - let me know so we can go ahead immediately.

You see, dedication to a Shul is a life time legacy. Even if for some reason the tables get sold someday – they will be picked up by another Jew, and inspire tables for a Shul somewhere else. What an investment!

Comments on: The Everlasting Table

Elisheva wrote...

Rabbi Kaplan - I very much enjoy reading these stories every week. So many miracles in our little community! Thank you for writing them down so eloquently.

Shabbat shalom,
E. Milotay

Inna Smolov wrote...

Thank you , Rabbi, for yet another wonderful story.
You always tell your stories with such warmth and it is always a joy to read them.
Friday, April 23 @ 4:40.