This morning, the Shikker Dovid continued his learning of the second chapter of Bava Metzia, the famous Alu Metzous. The Talmud was discussing returning lost objects. A question arose about finding coins in a synagogue. This lead to a discussion about a non- jewish “Beis Haknesses”. Initially, this would seem odd. What is a non jewish “beis haknesses” (synagogue).
Rashi explains that the term “beis haknesses” refers to a place of gathering and a place where advise is provided and issues are discussed. The Artscroll in a footnote adds the term ‘cultural” events to this definition. Clearly the role of a synagogue expands beyond mere prayer and must serve the communal social needs.
Without stirring the controversy or debate about other shabbot morning minyanim, the ShikkerDovid would like to share what happened later that morning during daf yomi as a demonstration of the primacy of established synagogues. While we were learning, a homeless women, who was clearly not Jewish wandered in and sat down. She clearly wanted a place to rest and escape the heat. Nobody said anything. No one bothered here. She was not asked to leave despite being unclean, unkempt and distracting. This sort of refuge to all is precisely the function of a shul. It is a place of refuge to the community and those seeking a respite. Synagogues need our financial support as well as people support, By abandoning them for other venues on Shabbat morning, we erode their efficacy and ability to accomplish their mission.