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11/18/2021 05:16:17 AM


Rabbi Ari Lucas

There’s been some talk of late about getting back to “normal.” But anyone who has experienced a significant loss or trauma knows that there’s no going back to the way life was before - not really. You may recover many of the facets of life before the loss, but it will never be the same. Instead of going back, the challenge is how to move forward with our lives - wiser as a result of the experience. These past two years have changed us as individuals and as a society. We do not yet know the full impact of the pandemic on our society, but we also have some agency in thinking about how we would like to move forward together.

As a synagogue community, the answer to that question is clear. We’re doubling down on in-person community which has always been the core strength of synagogues. We create opportunities to be together (the Hebrew word for synagogue, beit k’nesset, means “house of gathering”). Whether it’s to share Shabbat, celebrate simhas (joyous occasions like a wedding, the birth of a child, or a bat mitzvah), grieve losses at a funeral or shiva, or simply to appreciate the mundane rhythms of life (drop off at carline, a cookie and coffee at kiddush, weeknight committee meetings). We need each other for our emotional and spiritual wellness and the synagogue is a place to be together.

In the coming months, you can expect some changes to our synagogue life and practice which seek to reinforce those opportunities for us to be together:

• We’re working to restore indoor kiddush in a way that is safe and responsible (thanks for your patience as it’s going to take us some time to work out the details)
• On Wed. December 1st at 7 pm, the 4th night of Hanukkah, we’re going to have a rededication of our sanctuary space (Hanukkah means rededication). We’ll light candles together and feel the warmth of simply being together. If you haven’t been back to the sanctuary, this might be a great time to try
• At
the end of Hanukkah, we’re going to resume in-person daily minyan (while retaining a Zoom connection) and restore some religious policies/norms that were bent during the pandemic to accommodate remote worship.

While that last point about daily minyan may not seem like a big deal, it’s actually quite challenging to sustain twice daily in-person prayer services in the synagogue building. Even before the pandemic, in a synagogue as large as ours, getting ten adults to show up on a regular basis can be a struggle. I like to think of daily minyan as the beating heart of a synagogue. Not everyone is in the rhythm of daily prayer, but for those who are, it has a special place in their lives. And most members of a community at some point benefit from the fact that a daily minyan exists - often when they need it most.

My colleague and friend, Rabbi Neil Kurshan, recently published a piece about the sweetness of in-person daily minyan (with thanks to Rabbi Silverstein for bringing it to my attention). While Rabbi Kurshan is speaking specifically about minyan, I believe his point about “third places” - a space other than home and work where people can gather (coffee shops, gyms, etc.), can be applied more widely to all aspects of synagogue life. We’re going to work on creating those “third place” opportunities. Now all we need is you.

February 27,2024 /  18 Adar I 5784