Our Temple has always been a place where we seek closeness to one another, comfort in Jewish tradition and a sense of God’s divine presence. Up to now, finding Shabbat joy, for many of us, has meant coming to Temple or otherwise gathering with family and friends. Yet today, current circumstances have many of us asking “now what?” Although we can not physically gather, we can still connect with loved ones and each other, as well as find joy and comfort in Jewish ritual.
Jews have always been resilient. Historically we have been creative and adapted our practices to adhere to whatever restrictions were placed in our path. For example, one theory says that the practice of weekly haftarah readings came about in a time when Jews were prohibited by authoritarian oppressors from engaging in public readings of Torah.
Today we face a different kind of oppression, a health crisis that has many of us sheltering in place and our Temple building closed to public gatherings. So we adapt. “Social distancing” does not have to mean “social isolation.” Social media, FaceTime and phone calls allow us to stay connected. Since we can’t all be together at Temple, we will use technology to come together to find Shabbat joy in worship and study. Information will soon be distributed regarding our live streaming of Shabbat services and real-time, on-line Shabbat morning Torah study. Please join in. This week’s Torah portion, Vayakheil-P’kudei, from the Book of Exodus, begins with a reminder to keep Shabbat, and I am reminded of Ahad Ha-Am’s words that “More than the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish people.”
Cantor Dubin and I look forward to your joining us for Shabbat services!