The Holy Umbilical Cord
Created by Hanna Tiferet and Daniel Siegel and the Or Shalom Community

by Roslyn Kunin

If you walk into the Or Shalom shul at 10th and Fraser today, you will find a homey, but very respectable synagogue. There are proper pews to sit on (although a few die-hards still insist on sitting on the floor). An elegant chandelier lights up the carefully refined interior and the Torahs are housed in large and beautifully crafted ark.

But what is this, hanging from knobs at the front of the ark? You might think that the loosely braided, not quite balanced, multi colored cord is something that the children left there by mistake. This cord is not from Or Shalom`s children. It is from Or Shalom's parents, Rabbi Daniel and Hanna-Tiferet Siegel. They were the ones who first gathered the souls, opened the gates of prayer and started the music that brought Or Shalom into existence and turned it into a congregation.

Children grow up, parents move on, and the generations go their separate ways. But how do you say good-bye? It was Hanna, a mother, who realized that we had to cut the umbilical cord, both figuratively and literally. So, with Hanna and Daniel at one end of a bouquet of colored cords and the Or Shalom members at the other, we danced around each other weaving the cords into one long, firm braid that united the founding rabbis with their growing minyan.

And then we cut the cord. Daniel and Hanna took their half, a little piece of Or Shalom, with them as they moved on. And, to this day, Or Shalom keeps a slightly tattered braid in its ark, so that we will never forget how two good people, many years ago, gathered together a minyan and formed a new house in Israel.


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