Looking at Temple Am Echad’s website, fb page, bulletin, weekly emails and other materials, it is clear that our volunteer ethic is extraordinary. At our Volunteer Shabbats, as we call out areas of Temple participation and ask those who serve the community in these areas to stand, barely anyone is left in their seats!!
So last week, when the heads of our Reform Movement sent out a letter to clergy and synagogue professionals, board members and volunteers, I understood it was meant for our entire community. In part, here is what it said:
Thank you. You are extraordinary. You have made decisions about things that didn’t exist six months ago. You’ve created new pathways for engagement and pivoted to new forms of programming and virtual experiences. You’ve mourned, celebrated, comforted, and reached out in new ways. And you are planning for an extraordinary High Holy Day season, literally. Every congregation in our movement will be doing something they’ve never done before at the most special, heightened, holy, high-pressure time of year…
As we talk to leaders of every type in our congregations, we take note of the hard work everyone is putting in to do the best possible job maintaining the community and creating moments of connection, celebration, and observance – and we take note of the incredibly high stress levels of everyone involved. Noticing all of this, we ask you for added compassion right now, for each other and for ourselves.
Among the suggested ways to add compassion over the next few weeks and beyond are:
– Serve up extra doses of forgiveness and gratitude.
– Do not insist that people come into the building if they do not feel safe.
– Don’t compare High Holy Day Experiences – Every congregation has different resources, skills, bandwidth and culture.
This week’s Torah portion Nitzavim-Vayeilech reminds us that when we come together to stand before God, we do so as one community (Deut. 29:9-14). As we approach the holiest days of the Jewish year, let’s all stand together, supporting and caring for each other, as well as appreciating all we’ve done, all we do, and looking forward to what we will accomplish together in the new year.