Minyan regulars find way to repay synagogue
August 14, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
Frank Cwilich Special to the Tribune
MONTREAL – Most regulars who attend daily services at the Young Israel of Chomedey do so out of appreciation to those who would attend regular services if they themselves faced the devastating loss of a loved one.
The pain of the seemingly unbearable loss eases somewhat with time and new friendships are fostered as a firm respect for each others’ dedication develops within the circle of new “minyanaires.”
At the centre, of course, is the marvelous institution known as the shul, which continues to witness the ups and downs of daily life, the euphoria of simcha celebrations intermingled with the harsh tears of inevitable losses as dear members go on to their eternal reward.
How do you say thank you to a synagogue, which has provided daily the opportunity to demonstrate your undying love and lifelong respect to the memory of those dearly departed souls?
How do you show your appreciation to those in your select group of former mourners who now guide and nurture you through the awkward stages as you, at first, fumble over the challenging words of the revered Kaddish, before eventually gaining the confidence and experience, as we all inevitably do, to recite this holy prayer without error?
How do you find a means to repay the synagogue for its constant support and encouragement, for being there through good times and not so good times, for allowing us to maintain our strong Jewish identity with boundless pride and determined conviction?
At the Young Israel of Chomedey, an idea was suggested about four-and-a-half years ago. We’d form a morning minyan lottery group and dream that the day would come where we might actually overcome the seemingly impossible odds and, perhaps with some divine intervention, be able to share a significant prize with our beloved shul.
From the beginning, our incredible minyan regulars insisted that the shul would be an equal partner, and thereby receive an equal share of any possible winnings. A few of us expressed confidence that the day would eventually arrive where our “impossible dream” would be brought into fruition, but most stayed skeptical, knowing that the odds were astronomically against any chance of success.
Still, we who believe in our people and in our faith, and in our commitment to serve our members as well as we could persevered, undaunted by weekly setbacks, hoping that our day to celebrate would eventually arrive. This proved to be the case on June 22, 2012, when the LOTTO MAX draw revealed, to our shock and delighted amazement, that one of our tickets had correctly matched six of the seven numbers, plus the bonus, to merit a major prize in excess of $360,000.
We were ecstatic. Some of us had to be convinced that this was not some practical joke.
When reality finally set in, we were overjoyed to realize that each of the 15 partners in our group, including the shul, would be receiving a pretty impressive payoff. More importantly, we were thrilled to be able to share our incredible good fortune with the synagogue that has played, and continues to play, such a vital role in our lives. Without the synagogue, there would have been no lottery group. Without the synagogue, Jewish life in Chomedey would, sadly and tragically, slowly disappear.
The morning minyan lottery group is still in operation, as we continue to dream of even greater prizes to share with our wonderful institution. There’s a certain buzz of excitement in the air as news of our unbelievable good luck slowly spreads.
We’ve had larger turnouts at our minyanim lately. Our good fortune has brought renewed optimism and encouragement for our congregation and we are so very proud that we were able to offer some way to say thank you to the shul we all love and respect so very much. It certainly pays to attend a minyan regularly, even without a winning lottery ticket. Try it. You’ll be a ‘winner,’ for sure.
Frank Cwilich is president of the Young Israel of Chomedey.