October 2020 Keeping Connected
I would venture to guess that right now, most rabbis are thinking about the wisdom of having Sukkot and Simchat Torah just days after the High Holidays, ESPECIALLY on a year with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur happening through Zoom or other similar technologies. I mean who would think that is a good idea? If it would be appropriate to use emojis in a newsletter article, which it isn’t, I would have put a big smiling face after that question, to be followed by one of the silly faces that looks like your head is upside-down, one eye is open, the other shut and your tongue is hanging out of your mouth!
I know you are aware that for High Holidays to happen this year, there were many technology mountains to climb and hurdles to jump. Despite the challenges, including my loosing electricity and internet two times, one time in the very middle of the Yom Kippur morning service, I think we can all be blessed that things went as well as they did. I’m not sure if you heard the news, but many, many synagogues that use a software platform called Shul Cloud to power their e-mail data base and website, crashed suddenly on Erev Yom Kippur, leaving many, many congregations and Jewish families without the ability to attend services. When I heard about this yesterday I said a prayer of gratitude, in particular for the amazing dedication, commitment and sacrifices made by our members and staff who helped pilot us through the new arena of on-line services for the many. I am also humbled in knowing that it could have just as easily happened on Zoom. It made all our smaller glitches seem minor in comparison.
Preparing for this year’s holiday celebration took months of preparation and I am deeply grateful for the incredible support and partnership of many, many members and colleagues. I know that when I am helping a Bar or Bat Mitzvah student write their D’var Torah, I encourage them NOT to make it a thank you speech. This year, with the awareness that Zoom services can be tiring and that we did not want our services to seem too long, I decided not to thank all those people who were involved in helping this year. That being said, I think it is important to thank all the people who were involved in helping to put together our High Holiday experience. I have tried to be inclusive, but it is likely that I will have inadvertently forgotten a person. If that I do, PLEASE, PLEASE know this was not intentional or in any way means I did not feel your volunteerism meaningful and important. If I do forget, please let me know so that I can apologize. Sharing folks names in a thank you always runs the risk of this possibility. I do feel that this year, the many people who were involved deserve recognition and thanks. When you read the list below, you will be AMAZED by how many people participated in helping with our services, Elul mailings, holiday bags for the kids and for the families, shofar blowing videos, slide making and more, all were a part of the experience. Below are the thanks by category. For the standing committees, I did not list all the members.
First I would like to thank organizations that our members would not have any idea of their involvement. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, The American Conference of Cantors and the Union of Reform Judaism, by April were holding regular, meaningful on-line sessions to help train rabbis for the challenges ahead. Everything from how to deal with technology, to what a Yom Kippur sermon on Zoom might look like. Most importantly, the Central Conference of American Rabbis waived the fees to use the High Holiday slides of our prayerbook. These slides normally cost a synagogue about $2,000 to buy. Out of consideration of how Covid was financially impacting communities this year, we were allowed to use the slides for free this one year.
Within our community I would like to first thank the Re-Opening committee, which met regularly in the spring to discuss the medical issues surrounding communal worship and Covid-19. Although it was a hard decision to decide to hold services virtually, I think it was the only safe decision possible. I am so glad the decision was made early so we could move ahead with planning for a new type of experience.
Special thanks to Bruce Goss, Lynne Rothstein, Deborah Morrissey, Lauren Denis, Eileen Hirsch, Liz Jegasothy and Alex Cole for all of your help envisioning what we could do as a community from the beginning of Elul through Yom Kippur, in order to provide a meaningful and spiritual holiday season. Thanks in particular to Eileen and Liz for their amazing vision around communications that kept us all connected. Without their efforts, which was incredibly time consuming, we would not have had all the information we needed to come together as a community. If I were to write as extensively about each of the people or groups who were involved, this letter would take up pages, so instead, I am now going to list folks by the groups they were involved with. My thanks is no less heart-felt. These groups are not listed in any particular order.
Committees and Constituent groups: The BOT, Sisterhood, Brotherhood, the Social Action/Justice Committee, The Shalomites, the House Committee, the Security Committee, the Beautification Committee
High Holiday Task Force: Liz Denly, Cayla Maguire, Terry Howard, Barry Danzig, Elana Newman, Deborah Morrissey, Alex Cole, Dina Katz
Music: Meryl Gold, Ari Strasser, Nathan Morrissey, Johann Soults, Scotts Nicholas, Adam Gold, Lenny Braman, Ken Budka, Bruce Goss and Stan Schertzer
Technology: Alex Cole, Rob Berkovitz, Dan Lazar, Dan Wolman, Cayla Maguire, Eugene Katz, Tina Kempner, Norman McBride, Tim Miranda, Liz Denly
Speakers: Liz Denly, Nathan Smith and Jacob Moskowitz
Torah chanting, Shofar Blowing and other Ritual: Lynne Rothstein, Bruce Goss, Deborah Morrissey, Lauren Denis, Barry Lewin, Yaffa , Valarie Rosen, Lyla Kiloski, Phil Rosen, Dennis McHugh, Neil Rosen, Spencer Cole, Phil Rosen, Alex Cole, Judah Danzig, Leslie Lathrop, Ethel Kamien, Rob Berkovitz, Staci Landress, Liz Denly, Larua Rodman, Jacob Lazar, Jojo Newell, Ali Schertzer, The Boroshok Family, Jennifer and Rebecca Sohn, Ali Bendacha Newlon, Julie Beck-Goss, Jackie Santangelo
High Holiday Bags for children and families: Deborah Morrissey, Lauren Denis, Liz Jegasothy, Sandy Moore, Noah Ablove, Lee Ablove, Grandma and Grandpa Ablove, Janet Dubner, Shari Bass, Ilana Berkovitz, Sue Miller, Leslie Lathrop, Anne Rosenberg, Laura Boerman, Liz Denly, Lauren Denis, Staci Landress, Darren Landress, Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Shalomites, Social Action/Justice Committee
Memorial Garden: Linda Lischer, Lynne Rothstein, Jay Newlon, Susan McHugh, Janet Dubner, Jackie Santangelo, Dan Dubner, Marcia Pesaich, Barry Wyshogrod, Kobi Himelboim, Gayle Hurd, Mitch Hyatt
Flowers: Anne Rosenberg and Janet Dubner
My greatest thanks goes to each and every member who participated, whether through Zoom or in person at our Rosh HaShanah Drive-Thru reception line and Havdallah/New Moon Blessing event. You ARE what made the holidays meaningful because you are the community that makes Shalom so special. I hope you will stay involved throughout the year and that our services and programs will continue to be meaningful. Most of all I’d like to say, “Next Year, Together in our Congregation! Next Year, we are healthy and safe”!