My 2020 Keeping Connected
By the time you receive this update, a group of our volunteer members and staff will have begun making “Shalom Cares” calls to the members of our community. I hope you have received such a call or a follow-up e-mail. Because of the inordinate amount of spam calls we receive, I know that many of us are hesitant to answer our phones from people we do not know. Perhaps in this situation you may want to answer and have the personal connection. Either way, through calls or e-mails, we hope these efforts of communication, will elevate your spirits during this difficult time and remind you of our congregation’s deep commitment to building a caring network of support. I am deeply grateful to all the members of this cohort who stepped up to volunteer. All I did was simply ask and 12 people quickly responded with open-hearts and generous spirits. Thank you.
The Jewish tradition has always placed a great deal of emphasis on the power of community as a healing force. Think of how a minyan is necessary to say certain prayers, especially the Kaddish; there is a wisdom that the early rabbis recognized when they realized that people would need emotional and spiritual support to say certain prayers. Think about the mitzvah that EVERYONE in a community is required to give some amount of tzedakah, even the poorest amongst us. By doing so, people are reminded that the well-being of a community is dependent on the interconnectedness of EVERY member, and when a person who has very little realizes that even they can give even a little bit, they are reminded of their own self-worth.
Several years ago, a large percentage of our membership participated in an effort to develop a mission statement for our congregation. The power of that statement, the force that enlivens it and makes it relevant to all of us, is that so many people participated in its creation. Today, as we are faced with challenges and limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic, a situation that none of us could have imagined at the time, I am heartened to know that the words and, more importantly, the values that are the underpinnings of that mission statement seem as relevant or even more relevant than they did when they were formulated.
Congregation Shalom is a Reform Jewish community committed to education, spiritual growth, and Tikkun Olam (healing the world). We are proud to be an extended family of equals – welcoming, caring and inclusive. Together, we engage in religious observance, enjoy social activities, and pursue life-long learning.
If within the next week you have not received some type of communication from our Shalom Cares cohort, please let me know by e-mail, because we may have wrong contact information. Our plan is for everyone to be reached in one of two ways (call then e-mail), so if you haven’t heard within another week, there must have been some type of logistical issue. Also, the people from the Shalom Cares cohort are reaching out to one member of each household. If by chance another person in your home received the call or e-mail, and you yourself would like to be contacted, please let me know by e-mail as well. We want as many people as possible to feel that their concerns and feelings count. My e-mail is email@example.com.
In addition to these calls we wanted to let you know that there are many other ways to access support, both within the congregation and in the broader community. We do not want anyone to feel hesitant to reach out if we can be of help. For specific areas of support, we have designated members of community to help. We know that the challenges members face range from the financial, to the logistical, to the emotional. Hopefully we can, in some small or large ways, help to bring light to these difficult times.
If you would like support regarding financial commitments that you have made to the congregation, please do not hesitate to contact Liz Denly. We know that many of our members are facing difficulties because of economic fall-out from the virus, and we would not want anyone to feel that these challenges would impact your ability to be connected to our congregation.
The coronavirus has also caused many of us to struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, and more. These emotions have emerged for some people who have never experienced them before, and they have been greatly magnified for some people who have already grappled with mental health issues. Some of our members already have mental health supports, but if you don’t, and you would like to brainstorm about appropriate supports with members of our congregation who are mental health professionals with decades of experience supporting adults, children and families, we invite you to reach out to Bruce Goss, Lynne Rothstein or Arnie Kerzner. All of these calls will be kept confidential.
Finally if you have any other financial concerns that you need support with, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a Helping Hand Fund that can be used to help people with monies for groceries, medical care, rent, etc. This is a strictly confidential process so no one would know about the requests. People can choose to receive these monies as gifts or as interest free loans depending on what feels best for themselves. Please do not hesitate to be in touch. There are times when every person needs support and we should not be hesitant to ask for assistance. One day you may ask for help, but on another day in the future, it will be you who are able to donate to help others or help through your actions and deeds, which are no less valuable.
If you are having trouble accessing our zoom services and programs, please let me know as well. We have members who have offered to help assist you with the logistical problems.
Sending love and prayers your way,
Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry