It was a typical Friday morning. I stopped by Wassermans supermarket at about 8:30 am to pick up a few things for Shabbos. I didn’t paying enough attention to the Con Ed truck and the police cars parked at a nearby Shul.
I went home at about 9:30 and my son-in-law and grandson knocked on the door and proceeded to tell me about the fire coming out of the manhole right near our Shul. Our Shul also houses the Gan that my grandson attends. My son-in-law explained that a fire travelled from a manhole near the Con Ed truck to our Shul. All the children from the Gan were evacuated in a safe and orderly fashion as the Shul lost all power.
At about 10:15 I got a call requesting that an email go out to our members explaining the situation. We we’re not going to get power back until at least Shabbos. Some building committee members and the Rabbi laid out a plan of action. Here is the email:
There is currently a power outage in the Shul due to an Underground Fire. Con Edison is not sure exactly when power will be restored.
– The Gan classes have been dismissed.
– The 12:25 Early Mincha today is cancelled.
– We hope to have emergency lighting in the Men’s section for Mincha/Maariv tonight.
– There will be no Youth Groups tomorrow.
– We are planning on having Shacharis tomorrow, possibly with only natural light.
– We will be sending an update later (I”YH) regarding the scheduled Melava Malka and the MS Learning.
Please say a Kapitel Tehillim (121, 130) for the continued protection of the Shul and its inhabitants.
A few trips were made to Home Depot by our call-to-duty members. Shabbos Services under battery operated lights was a nice experience. The Rav’s Friday night Dvar halacha was appropriately about the permissibility to move the battery operated lights and to have a non-jew remove the batteries after services.
Shacharis and Mussaf under natural lights went well and we were even able to have the Hashkama minyan in the basement Social Hall with the assist of some battery operated lights. When we got back for Mincha the lights were restored and we had Shalosh Seudos in the Social Hall and the full Moatzae Shabbos schedule took place in the Shul.
There were many things to be thankful for as a result of this incident:
1) We were able to have Full Shabbos Services without any electricity for most of Shabbos.
2) We have a number of members, and our Rabbi, who are ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to insure the proper functioning of the Shul.
3) The Shul was built with much natural light which was of great avail for Shabbos day services.
4) Con Edison works quite hard in our five boroughs to restore power in emergency situations.
It’s easy to take electricity and the functioning of Shul Service for granted. Sometimes Hashem throws a curve ball so we can appreciate everything that goes into making davening happen day in and day out.