If these were normal times, I would be telling you about my vacation cruise and hoping you had a wonderful, relaxing summer as well. But these are not normal times. The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished locally, there has been social and political conflict, and now the pandemic is intensifying. I find myself working extremely hard with colleagues to broaden access to and improve COVID-19 testing. I would not have anticipated a few months ago that I would be so deeply involved in work of such significance.
Working with the Temple Emunah community during these times has been a blessing. We are not taking time off! The web site upgrade and solar projects are starting. The Pre-School is planning to open in September and adhering to all the mandated guidelines requires a monumental effort and support from many functions. The Religious School had in-person events over the summer and is planning for mostly virtual sessions starting in September, as well as in-person activities throughout the year. Our rabbis, staff, and community have been highly creative in keeping us engaged in learning and entertainment events. We also had access to online learning from the Shalom Hartman Institute, which I took advantage of. The sessions have been phenomenal. The COVID-19 Safety and High Holy Day planning committees have been meeting and modifying our safety requirements as we gain new information about how the virus is spread. As of this writing, we can meet outdoors with limited attendance, masks must be worn, and we need to keep a safe distance.
I have been attending as many virtual minyanim as possible. It is important that we make sure those that need to say Kaddish, can. It is also a great way to keep in touch with our community. As I have been laying tefillin, mostly from home, for almost 50 years, attending morning virtual minyan is not vastly different than usual. Evening virtual minyan is a respite before starting to work again or attending Temple Emunah meetings. Please join us.
The High Holy Days for 5781 will be all or mostly virtual. For me, Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a crescendo of spirituality, with the high point being Neilah. I do not know how it will feel this year. What I do know is that our rabbis, staff and lay leaders have been working tirelessly to bring the most meaningful experience that is physically, economically and spiritually possible. We have made and will make difficult choices. The health and safety of our community is of paramount importance.
My prayers for our community: May we all find the strength to face these challenging times and be blessed with the wisdom to make the right decisions. G’mar Hatimah Tovah – may we all be sealed for a good year.
L’shanah Haba’ah B’Temple Emunah
Next year at Temple Emunah.