The year 2020 is nearing its end and for many, maybe most of us, it probably can’t come soon enough. We all know this has been an extraordinary and stressful year. It is easy to look back to see why this year was so unusual.
First and foremost, and probably affecting everything else, a world-wide plague, COVID-19. Second is POLITICS and POLITICAL LEADERS. And of course, RACISM, CIVIL UNREST, HATRED and JUSTICE DENIED. Sounds a lot like a Torah portion to me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone used Jewish values to address these challenges? In the words of Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to others.” And “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”
There have also been unexpected and positive outcomes of all this and I hope you have experienced some of them.
Most of us have really upped our game when it comes to tech savvy, the downside is we are all increasingly attached to, and dependent on, our devices. We’ve learned to use Zoom, signed on to Facebook, linked in to YouTube and in doing so, we have maintained connections with family, friends and the Temple Shalom community. Some of us may even have made new connections or rekindled old ones.
And thanks to our dedicated clergy, staff, volunteers and all of you, we not only made it through the High Holidays but made the High Holidays as special as always, just in a different way. Do we miss meeting in-person, of course, and not all of us have found tech solutions satisfying but I can certainly say, I’m less isolated than I would have been without the tech and I’ve learned a lot. It makes me happy to see so many of you participating in our services and programs during this unprecedented time.
Like synagogues, from the largest to the smallest, we are still finding our way as a (hopefully temporary) virtual synagogue; how do we stay meaningful, provide spiritual services, stimulate our intellects, keep our youngsters engaged while maintaining community and a sense of belonging.
The virtual world has caused us to think about why we are part of the Temple Shalom community. Some people want services that are fine-tuned performances, which are now available to anyone anywhere from large shuls (are these mega shuls our versions of the mega churches that have been around for decades). Some people are rejecting technology and finding ways to meet outdoors in small groups (chavarot); this option is way easier to sustain in Arizona or southern California than it is here in Winnipeg as winter approaches. Most of us, however, seek the community of familiar faces, familiar music, familiar leaders, in short, our own community. This is one case where perhaps size does not matter.
In the months ahead, we will be introducing new programs and continuing our weekly services, keeping in mind the lessons from the Torah and those Jewish values. As we move forward with our planning, we would love to hear from you so we can continue to make the Temple Shalom community a meaningful and important part of all of our lives.
– Judith Huebner