President’s Message March 2021 – Judith Huebner
It’s been a year! Hard to believe that we have gone through the whole cycle of Torah readings and Jewish holidays since we first closed our doors in March 2020 because of the escalating pandemic. We’re all weary and hoping that vaccines, treatments and adherence to preventive measures will have us back on the road to normalcy where we can see each other in person, give family and friends real hugs and start the cycle of Torah readings and holiday celebrations together at the Temple. Unfortunately, that time is a way off and so we are now planning for the “second time around.” Fortunately, we’re all a bit more comfortable with Zoom and Facebook live and have adapted to our virtual world, but our expectations are higher than they were a year ago when we had to pivot instantly with little time to plan ahead. We are certainly keeping this in mind as we plan for our first “second time around” Virtual Passover Seder. And like all Seders, this year will be the same but different and we hope you will be there.
One of the wonderful things that has come out of this challenging year is the shift to on-line opportunities. There is no way in the past that I could have heard a concert and lecture from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, taken weaving classes from teachers in California and Nova Scotia, and learned from webinars delivered by outstanding people as part of the Hebrew Union Connect program and the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism). Most of this has been free, some of it is useful and some of it is just for fun. Would I love to be in the concert hall or chatting with my fellow seminar and class attendees, then going for coffee or a glass of wine to chat? Of course, but in reality, that would not have been possible because I am here in Winnipeg, not New York or California or any of those other places, so I am grateful to have these opportunities.
Closer to home, once the panic of shifting on-line subsided, this year has given us at Temple Shalom some time to reflect on who we are and take the time to explore some new directions. We’ve expanded collaborations with other Reform congregations in Canada, especially in Western Canada, and with synagogues and other Jewish organizations in Winnipeg. We are developing our Tikkun Olam initiative which you can read about in this Bulletin on page 11 and are totally rethinking children’s and family education. We’ve taken a look at who we are, where we are going and how to build our membership by letting people in Winnipeg know what they are missing if they are not part of this unique, creative, inclusive organization brimming with music and filled with warm and passionate people. THINK about getting more involved, think about introducing someone new to Temple Shalom, think about all we have to offer now and how much more we hope to offer when we can once again be together “in person.” And then ACT in whatever way you can.