For the week ending 14 June 2008 / 11 Sivan 5768

No Dumping Ground!

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: Upon recently entering the synagogue in which I pray I was shocked to see so many holy books piled up in a corner. Upon asking the gabbai what they were he explained that there was not enough room on the synagogue shelves for them and that they would probably have to be removed. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The problem you mention is caused by a number of factors:

  1. People who have no room on the shelves in their home mistakenly think that these books will be welcomed by the synagogue.
  2. People forget them and don't return to claim them.
  3. Authors who contribute a sample of their work without first determining if there is room for them.

While it is difficult to completely control the above mentioned factors, it might be an idea for the trustees of your synagogue to follow the example of others and post a prominent sign stating that no one can leave a book in the synagogue without permission, and a warning that any book left without authorization will be disposed of.

If it is possible to transfer these unwanted books to a fledgling synagogue or school this would be an ideal solution. Otherwise there may be no alternative to using the services of your local genizah that disposes of holy books in a dignified manner.

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