President’s Post – May 2020

Zooming into Shavuot?

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

For the past many days, we have seen a message in our Facebook feeds, when we log on in the mornings, that Rabbi Kail has been Live on Facebook commemorating the Counting the Omer. The ancient tradition of marking the days between Passover and Shavuot are seen by many as the celebration of Moses receiving the ten commandments at Mount Sinai.

Right now, we sit in a time when we are counting days while the quarantine is occasionally extended; we keep being given a date by community leaders to count to. When this article was written, the day, we were counting towards is May 16, and on that date, the new normal may begin with the strategic reopening of life as we knew it. A phased restoration to a normal where we seek to protect the vulnerable in our community while starting to get back to daily life. We are in a position to contemplate what Moses may have been thinking when he climbed Mount Sinai. What will the new normal be? How will society be reformed and changed?

Some of us have great nostalgia for the old normal where aircraft carriers and fancy fighter jets made us the defense envy of the world. The new normal will seek to protect us from a threat that turns out to be potentially just as deadly as war. We will have to make significant changes to protect ourselves and others, but we will settle in to this new normal, and in a few weeks, months or years we will be accustomed to our new way of life. Just like Moses, we will evolve after going through this monumental communal experience and come down from Mount Sinai stronger yet invigorated for having gone through this devastating experience together.

How will our community change? Certainly over the short term there will be a phased return. However, in the TBE community, the changes will seem more nuanced: For example, people that experienced difficulties and roadblocks to regular attendance at services, may now feel comfortable with watching a live feed, many activities scheduled for the early part of 2020 will be re-scheduled for the future, and the bonds that we have within our community will get a chance to be re-kindled in person just to name a few.

So during this time period, we can think as Moses might have on his descent from Mount Sinai (about half as tall as California highest peak Mount Whitney) about what the new normal will be waiting for us at the bottom of the mountain. It may be changed, however the fabric that makes our community unique and beautiful can easily bend to whatever life returns to.

We wish our entire TBE family good health, strength, perseverance and an ample supply of toilet paper as we Zoom forward to life after Covid-19 and our new normal, whatever that may turn out to be.