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Cantor Anibal Mass


WHEN THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK BURY THE BOOKS-Community Genizah Book Burial 2011

by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng., June 8, 2011

About a dozen people attended the Community Genizah Book Burial that took place at the Hebrew Sick Cemetery on June 7, 2011. Cantor Anibal Mass officiated.

Prayer books, (Chumashim) Torah books, (Tallit) Prayer Shawls, Tefillin, Birkat Ha Mazons, Parashat Ha Shavoahs, etc. were gathered from synagogues, schools and individuals to be buried.

We are forbidden to destroy the name of G-d, and are instructed to bury sacred texts rather than throw them in the garbage-- they are returned to the earth as a sign of respect.

A Genizah (Storage) is a container used specifically for worn out books and papers on religious topics. The custom of Genizah dates back more than 2000 years to Talmudic times. Items are stored until a burial can take place.

We return our retired sacred items to the earth with love and respect. We bury these books and other things in the cemetery as we would bury a friend, with gratitude for the wisdom and truth they have shared.

As Cantor Mass said, “We have been called Am Ha Sefer, People of the Book. It is a title we have worn with pride. At the celebration of B’nai Mitzvah, we give gifts of books. At Aufrufen, we give books. We are the People of the Book because it is through them that the doors are opened to our people’s past and to the beauty of Jewish life… We learn that books are almost living beings and should be treated as we would honour a friend or a teacher.”

“Just as we bury our dead, so too do we bury our sacred books and ritual items which contain G-d’s name. There comes a time when our holiest texts can no longer be read; they can no longer shed light or raise up light within us. It is time to inter them in the earth.”

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.