You may be wondering what role our temple plays in your life during this time of reduced access. We are trying our best to find ways to include you. ZOOM meetings may not compare to real live get-togethers, but at least we get to chat and see each other’s faces. Saturday morning outdoor services at the JCC this summer, with a picnic to follow, gave many of us a wonderful opportunity to be with our community again. Some of our volunteers have been calling our more isolated members to check in on them and offer support when needed.
We have been sharing not only our regular Erev Shabbat services but also Havdalah on Saturday evenings, Monday coffee break discussions, various classes, music daily and children’s programs. Read Hebrew will be starting up on October 19th. If you have always wished you could read Hebrew, this is a great way to learn it in your own home, on Zoom. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested or have questions. There is no fee for this course.
It is difficult in this time of COVID-19 to cope with the limitations that must be followed to keep us all safe. Our infrastructure costs have not disappeared: we have the building with all its regular costs for maintenance, as well as our staff. Foremost in my mind is how to keep our membership involved in and inspired by our High Holyday services. Our pulpit team has been working hard to create services short enough to hold our interest while watching at home, but enough to give us the motivation, inspiration, reflection, gratitude and renewal that we expect at Temple Shalom. They have been adapting the music, which will be performed by our three cantorial soloists rather than the choir. If you listened to Hashivenu/Return Again which we shared in August during Elul, you already know that the music will be beautiful… and no-one misses the choir more than I do!
Our temple has a long and admirable history when it comes to all sorts of initiatives. We have performed gay marriages since they were legal in Canada. We welcomed interfaith families and established a cemetery where these families could be buried together… and our own Chevre Kadisha which we operated until the Chesed Shel Emes finally approved Tahara for those being buried in our cemetery.
We have honoured non-Jewish partners and their families by allowing them to take part in our rituals. We were the first to have female rabbis and cantors and to have women as community leaders. The use of musical instruments on the bimah was also our initiative. Now, many other synagogues follow our lead. We have much of which to be proud.
I am taking this opportunity to wish you Shanah Tovah uMetukah. I hope this year brings you peace, good health and happiness, and I hope to see you again soon!
Ruth Livingston, Co-President