What happens if or, better yet, when I look at “community” as a verb, as an active choice
rather than a thing?
Like everyone around me, I can’t not notice the impact of the pandemic on my life and on
my community. And as a rabbi, I certainly think about its impact on Temple Shalom
yesterday, today and tomorrow.
The patterns of our life have changed hugely. We leave our homes far less often and with
heightened wariness. Our connections to others have also changed dramatically, as face-
to-face and hugs and trips and gatherings have been replaced by phone calls and Zoom
rooms. And as we tire of our devices and screens, even those go into decline.
This has, of course, seeped into Temple life as well. Back in the day, whether we did or
didn’t attend services, we knew there was always a warm and inviting door awaiting us. And
even when we had to close our doors, we popped up online two weeks later. Now, these
days, we are both live and online. But our personal responses have been muted by our
ongoing wariness and our inclination towards “maybe later.” Friends tell me about their
cancelled theatre subscriptions and gym memberships and I understand. But for Temples
and synagogues everywhere, this kind of thinking represents an existential threat.
And I hope that we don’t add our temples to the lists of things we cancel. Rather, I’d
encourage you to think of “community’ and especially our Temple community as an active
choice — to step into “something, anything” at the Temple and maybe add the word “new”
and find a creative way to make the Temple part of your life –perhaps a volunteer
commitment inside the Temple, or to represent our Temple in planning a Rady JCC holiday
event or attend an Adult Ed or a Tikkun Olam project or our Book Club.
We know, in our hearts, how great it feels when we show up, to see others and to be seen.
But it only happens when we actively “choose community.” We rather than me, these are
the central teachings of our Torah.