August 2021 Keeping Connected
There are some truths in the world: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, this has been amongst the rainiest summers in the history of the Northeast, people will debate about the quality of their favorite ice cream stand with a fierceness that is unbending….AND any newsletter article I would have written a week ago is already out of date AND any newsletter article I write today may have information that will need to change in a week’s time. Even with the survey we sent out, those who answered at the beginning of the week had a different sensibility than those who responded on the last day of the survey. I am sure you can all relate to the sense of vertigo we are feeling with the emerging Covid recommendations, restrictions and concerns. Most of all I want to share that we received over 150 responses, which was excellent. Thank you for participating. Because the survey was anonymous, we cannot tell if folks answered one reply per household or if two people responded. We were able to get a general sense of where the community is at and we will integrate your ideas and concerns into our decision making in the next couple of weeks.
Usually in my August newsletter I am able to write about the upcoming holidays. By this time of the year I would know the schedule for services exactly, who is doing what parts and more. Even last year, knowing as we did by the end of June that we would be completely remote, I was able to share details about our holiday season in August. This year, with 5 weeks to go, there are still great uncertainties and our Re-Opening Committee continues to evaluate our synagogue’s procedures. When I talk with other rabbis around the country I can assure you that the word most on people’s mind is “pivot”! How can congregations pivot and adapt their plans on short notice if needed? Thank you for your flexibility as we work through these next weeks.
What I am sure about, is that our plan is to have all of our services both streamed and on Zoom, although the Zoom experience will be much simpler than last year. I am also sure that we will be able to lend out our High Holiday prayerbooks to members so that we will not need to use slides. Families will also be able to buy their own version of the prayerbooks for themselves, either in hard-copy or on Kindle. I also know that Meryl Gold and I will lead most of the services from the sanctuary, that Scott will be on piano and Johann on Cello. Also, for Erev Rosh Hashanah, back by popular demand as seen in the survey, we will do a Rosh Hashanah Seder. In addition to Meryl and I leading this service, Ari will join us as well. This will be home-based ceremony. We also plan to have a Rosh Hashanah afternoon outdoor visiting opportunity at the synagogue, which will include the Shofar and Tashlich services, visits to the Memorial Garden, children’s activities and more.
Getting back to truths, here is another truth: the meaning of the High Holidays will be just as meaningful this year as in years past and the importance we place on community perhaps is even more important. This has been a difficult year for so many folks and in the days ahead the sense of supporting one another remains critical. I would also say that if you have not yet had a chance to get vaccinated, but are medically able to, please do so. The mitzvah of Pikuach Nefesh, the saving of a life, is the most important of all mitzvot. Protect yourself and protect the community, especially those who are not yet able to get vaccinated. I will be in touch in a couple of weeks with more details about our holiday season. It is a time of renewal, resilience and reconnection. I am looking forward to seeing you all in several weeks.
Rabbi Shoshana Perry