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    Building a sanctuary – T’rumah

    The Altneuschul in Prague

    The sidra tells the Children of Israel to erect a sanctuary to the name of God. Jews have been erecting sanctuaries ever since.

    At first there was a Tabernacle which moved with the people wherever they went. Then came the Temple in the Holy City (though today’s antisemites who constantly rewrite history blithely claim that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem).

    Tabernacle and Temple were centres of sacrifice, gradually accompanied by psalms and prayers.

    Next came the synagogue, with psalms, prayers and study but no animal sacrifice. Our oppressors constantly tried to undermine us by attacking our synagogues. What a disappointment we were to them when we kept on building synagogues and centering our community life around them.

    Today’s generation is no different, except that there are places where people boast of their beautiful synagogues but don’t utilise them.

    Go to Prague for example. Apart from a cluster of former synagogues which jointly comprise a museum, there is the famous Altneuschul, built in the Middle Ages and a major tourist attraction. Countless visitors walk through that synagogue every day… Entry requires that they pay, but how many also stop to pray?

    That’s what’s wrong with our generation. We have so many reasons to pray, but so many people find reasons not to pray. Maybe it would be a better world if more people sought God’s guidance, pardon and support…

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