Rosh Hashanah Co-President Speech 2021

Shalom everyone.

Hashkiveinu, Adonai Eloheinu, l’shalom, v’haamideinu shomreinu lichayim, ufros aleinu sukat sh’lomecha.

Let there be love and understanding among us.  Let peace and friendship be our shelter from life’s storms.

We pray these words every Shabbat service and each of us reflects on their meaning; they remain relevant each week. We sing these words along with our beloved Cantor Ilan as he leads us in sharing them with G-d or whatever personal power you ascribe to. I was particularly touched when our remarkable Rabbi Cassi spoke about this prayer at Shabbat services three weeks ago; she reminded us about our responsibility to take care of one another, to provide a safe environment for us to worship, and to be the protectors of those we love and whom we cherish as our friends. I took Rabbi Cassi’s words and Cantor Ilan’s and his daughters’ singing of these words, and I realized that we, as a congregation, have been doing just this all year long which brings me to this point tonight.

Our past year has been a constant obligation and opportunity to take care of one another as we worked so hard to avoid and defeat the Corona Virus and to maintain our spiritual community even when we have been physically apart. Our priority has been the protection of one another through this horrific life storm and no mask could ever hide our respect for one another. As we managed our way and followed a path that often was uncertain and ever-changing, we practiced love and understanding beyond what we thought we could actually do. We became our best selves never forgetting our common goal to build our sukkah, our shelter of peace and safety for one another. We relied on our health and science experts to guide us in our decision-making and we always remembered to think with our hearts alongside of our brains – we knew the importance of peace and friendship as we traveled through this past year. We strove for understanding even in the midst of confusion and the moving target of this pandemic – we did it all together and with compassion. We were creative and made decisions with Jewish values at the center of our commitment to do what has been in the best interests of one and all. We never wavered from our responsibilities even when our decisions were especially challenging and might have even been met with consternation by some. Our focus remained and we always practiced what we learned which would be in the best interests of Temple Beth El.

And so dear friends, we wish you all to remain healthy, to enjoy our community and one another, and to be full participants in the love and understanding we have for one another and to find peace. Le-shanah tovah tikatevu – may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

– Marla Shwarts