"Bet Knesset Chadash" (The New Synagogue)
By BERNIE BELLAN
April 27 In a move that was not totally unexpected, it was announced today that a new congregation is to be established in Winnipeg as of this coming September.
In a press release issued by Laurelle Harris Pinsker (who is the wife of Rabbi Lawrence Pinsker), the following description of the “new shul”, to be entitled “Bet Knesset Chadash” stated:
“Beginning this September, there will be a new opportunity for Winnipeg Jews to build community together.
Rabbi LAWRENCE PINSKER
“The New Shul of Winnipeg, 'Bet Knesset Chadash', will hold regular Shabbat and Yom Tov services, celebrate the holidays, and offer new opportunities for learning, all under the spiritual direction of Rabbi Lawrence Pinsker. Although Rabbi Larry is not yet a part of The New Shul family, he will be joining us as our founding rabbi beginning with Rosh HaShanah services on September 17, 2012. Rabbi Larry remains under contract to Congregation Shaarey Zedek until August 31, 2012; he will not be available for interviews until September 1, 2012.
“Spearheaded by a growing group of Winnipeg Jews from diverse backgrounds, The New Shul will be a centre for Jewish thought, creation, learning, volunteerism and prayer, intent on building connections between all members of the Winnipeg Jewish Community as well as people from other backgrounds.
"The New Shul is committed to - and recognizes the benefits of - maximum inclusion in our congregation by Jews and their families, irrespective of race, sexual orientation, gender, age, geographic or cultural background. We believe that Jews, whether by birth or by choice, have entered into and live within the Jewish world through many different pathways, and that each can find a home at The New Shul. The New Shul is not intending to formally affiliate with any movement at this time, and is deliberately structured in a manner which is post-denominational, drawing on the strengths of all existing Jewish movements.
“The High Holy Days will be celebrated in services geared to teens and adults, as well as a shorter, child friendly Family Service on the 2nd day of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. We are also hosting a Community Luncheon on the first day of Rosh HaShanah and a Community Break Fast following Ne’ilah services on Yom Kippur. All services and meals will take place at the Fort Garry Hotel, with the notable exception of our Tashlikh service, which will take place on the Assiniboine RiverWalk at the Forks.
“Regular Shabbat services will begin Shabbat Shuvah, September 22, 2012. We are still finalizing where our temporary home will be.
In an interview following release of the announcement Laurelle Pinsker insisted that this new congregation is not “designed as a ‘breakaway’ synagogue from the Shaarey Zedek.”
According to Mrs. Pinsker, her husband had been working without a contract since his contract was terminated last year. Readers may recall reports in The Jewish Post & News that referred to an acrimonious meeting at the Shaarey Zedek last spring, during which the matter of Rabbi Pinsker’s employment was put up for discussion.
Apparently the vast majority of the very large number of synagogue congregants who were at that meeting and who spoke up expressed strong opposition to the idea of Rabbi Pinsker’s contract being terminated.
Further, the reason or reasons for Rabbi Pinsker’s contract’s termination have never been made public, and no one who is in a position to explain that decision has ever commented publicly as to those reasons.
Mrs. Pinsker did say, however, that her husband “was absolutely not terminated for cause.” She went on to say that “there was a loophole in the contract that allowed them to terminate the contract…He was given one year’s notice”, (which will be up this coming August 31st).
Asked to give an idea how many other individuals have indicated they will be joining the new congregation, Mrs. Pinsker demurred from answering, saying only that what is being attempted is the creation of an “ethics based” congregation.
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