Rabbi’s Message May/June 2020

After weeks of week-to-week planning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a very different feel in looking ahead at two whole months for the Bulletin, while keeping the pandemic in mind as the backdrop to everything that we do.

There are quiet casualties, as might be expected, with graveside funerals limited to 10, shiva houses that we cannot visit, and the excited build-ups to summer weddings that are now pushed back a year.

But at the same time, I see how far we have come over the past two months. I’ve seen creative and intimate online services (an oxymoron that isn’t one) and huge and happy virtual Seders that have connected us all around the world. We have added David Vamos to our wonderful musical family. And I have noticed a spike upwards in attendance at services! ZOOM and Facebook Live are words that no longer inspire terror, as we are all quickly teaching each other and now teaching others on how to stay connected in this physically distanced world. I am quietly proud of how the Temple is reaching out to congregants and finding ways to help in small ways, thanks to the initiatives taken by Sherry Wolfe-Elazar and Neta Aviv.

And yes, there is misfortune in what we had planned to do as a congregation. Our May 1 weekend was supposed to feature the return to the bimah of our prodigal “son” Len Udow from his five-month sabbatical, as well as a Scholar-in-Residence weekend featuring my classmate Rabbi Ileanah Carozo from Costa Rica! But we WILL have Len, who has steadily fed us in the weeks past with music tracks to keep our spirits buoyed. Our postponed 3- week “Taste of Judaism” changes its format to a ZOOM series in May. And instead of Temple Shalom proudly hosting a community-wide Tikkun Leil Shavuot later in May, this too will wait a year, to be replaced by a community-wide online Rabbi Panel. The topic will shift as well, as our provisional theme on “Judaism & the Environment” switches to “What does Judaism teach us about how to live in a world with COVID-19?”

How we have adapted so far, willingly or unwillingly, is a testament to our resiliency. That’s just my look backwards. For me, for all of us, the open space of the next two months is also an invitation for us to have “open minds,” to find new and creative ways to express ourselves individually, as a congregation and as a community, and for all of us to step forward with new ideas and new ways to get involved. Together, we are already reimagining and reinventing what it means to be part of our Temple community. I truly believe that we will one day look back with pride and describe this as one of our proudest moments as a congregation.

With warmest regards,

Rabbi Allan