A few months ago a very idealistic and dedicated woman in our community contacted me as she was preparing to give a tour of our Shul to a Modern Orthodox day school from a nearby suburb. She only asked for some media for her tour (photos of the past rabbonim), but I gave her a quickly compiled list of things she could include in her speech. Here were my ideas, and anyone can use this if they need to speak somewhere about what made us what we are: (Link HERE for a downloadable sheet)
Speciality of Beis Haknesses KAJ Class
- No Mezuzah: Most shuls today have a mezuzah since they occasionally are used for other functions that may include learning and eating. This is not true of KAJ and therefore it follows the original Halacha that there is no mezuzah.
- No seforim! There are no seforim in shul other than those used for davening. A small shiur room is on the side for the Daf Yomi etc. But learning is meant to be done elsewhere so that the shul is dedicated to Tefillah
- Tzedakah box at entrance- If you need to leave before the collection, you have a box to put your tzedakah in
- Welcoming committee- People on duty every Shabbos to welcome guests, give them a siddur and tallis and ask if they need accommodations. This way no one will be ignored when coming to Shul for the first time.
- Tie to every Tefillah- Men wear ties to davening
- Hat and tie for an aliyah- Need to be wearing these to get an Aliyah
- Aliyos decided ahead of time and plates given out- Before the Torah comes out it has already been decided who will be called up and their name has been given in so there is no delay. On Yomim Tovim when Aliyos are auctioned off this is done on a weekday night and not during the davening as is common in some shuls.
- Dedicated Chazanim. The chazanim need to be upstanding individuals. The way this is ensured is that the chazanim are given the responsibility to be the eid for a chuppah
- Chevrah Shiur- It was once the minhag that every committee that had duties in a community also had a shiur together to solidify their group. The members of the Chevra Kadisha have (had?) an ongoing shiur in chumash every Shabbos. They do one “aliya” each year and finish the whole chumash EVERY SEVEN YEARS.
- Mishnah Shiur- a few Mishnayos are learned daily between Mincha and Maariv. The whole mishnah is finished in the course of 15 years. It has done several cycles!
- Women attend shul Friday night as well as Shabbos day.
- Tallis worn from young age.
- Only one person says kaddish at a time.
Other unique aspects of the community:
- Kashrus. Mashgichim (when we had a shechita:( were paid by Kehillo and not the manufacturer/slaughterhouse
- Rabbi will not officiate at wedding if Halacha (including sheitel- only mention if appropriate) will not be worn
- Title of “chaver” (now obsolete) was given for community service etc.
Children wear shoes no sneakers allowed (Is that still?)
Rav Breuer insisted that a school be established before a shul was buit. This was foresight because it was the bane of many small communities
Torah im Derech Eretz: As a philosophy this is now ubiquitous. But as a life’s theme it is meant to drive you to do better at showing yourself as a model to others in life, at home, and in the workplace.
“Glatt Kosher Glatt Yosher”- there was a time in America that meat shechitah was not “Glatt”. This stringency was added communally and Rav Breuer was hesitant to join with this for fear that he would consider himself “frummer” than his forebearers. He acquiesced but insisted that our generation needs to ensure that aside from being “Glatt Kosher” we need to be “Glatt Yosher” i.e. stringent in integrity.