Connection, Gratitude, and Purpose
Linda Rubin and Marla Shwarts, Co-presidents
Temple Beth El means different things to different people and all these differences have one thing in common — we are a special community where respect, hard work, commitment, and sacredness matter, because after all, we are Temple Beth El. The Covid-19 crisis and the appropriate responses to creating a safe space for all of us have influenced every one of us and as a result have impacted our spiritual home. Traditions and rituals might have been compromised to a very small extent, but indeed the integrity of what we find important and wholesome have been conscientiously and lovingly sustained by the hard work and commitment that we mentioned at the outset of this article.
Although a bit different in presentation style in some cases, Judaic life has stayed rather the same here in some ways and in other ways we have been enriched by our need to make some changes. Here are some examples of what is consistent: we attend Shabbat services, we have Coffee Talk with the Rabbi, weekly Torah study, we conduct our leadership meetings, we keep our building in good working order, we are careful with our budget and our expenses, and we serve the greater community with our Social Action work. Here are some examples of what we are doing to keep connected that have been supported by our Zoom participation: Havdalah observances weekly with Rabbi Cassi, Counting the Omer, Elul Reflections, and weekly conversations and learning with Cantor Ilan. We have been able to stay together as a community which we must do in times of need, in times of stress, and in times of celebration. Just think of how we have come together to celebrate b’nai mitzvah, to bury our loved ones and mourn their loss, to be silly and play together on a Zoom-a-thon to raise money for our temple by tossing pies at Cantor Ilan, and all the while these sacred events held safely as we are respectful of our quarantine responsibilities.
We have written often about the importance of gratitude and we have all shared our gratitude regarding our clergy, our staff, our faculty, and our lay leadership. But now in this American season of Thanksgiving it is time to thank our very own community members, on other words, ourselves, for continuing to make Temple Beth El the special place that it is. Do you know that our membership has grown this year as we follow up on our commitments? Do you know that not one member of our temple family has chosen to leave as a response to this demanding and tortuous pandemic? What does this say about each of you? What does this reflect about ourselves? This says and this means you are all very, very special and that gratitude for you is what we need to be thinking about now more than ever. Your decision to remain a vital part of our temple home is creating the ongoing description of who you are – a caring and warm community who practices kindness and generosity beyond measure. We are thankful this season and always.