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Built for Crisis

03/24/2020 08:05:47 AM

Mar24

Haverim,

More than ever, I am grateful for this community and for you. 

As Reconstructionists, we know that Judaism is an evolving religious civilization, but who knew that we would be faced with such rapid evolution?!

But if we go back a moment and look at our fastest and most significant evolution, the destruction of the temple, we can come to understand that Judaism is a tradition that was designed to respond to crisis. Strategies for grief, memory, gratitude, resilience, and adaptation are in the spiritual DNA of the tradition we inherited.

We are just at the beginning of this arc of change, where it is still unfolding and there is so much uncertainty. When there is so much unknown, it can do a number on us emotionally. It is natural to be scared or anxious with all that we are learning about Covid-19, the changing and constant news and the changing responses.

With the necessity for physical distancing to combat Covid-19, much of Jewish life is dramatically changing. And we are discovering that this disruption will likely be long enough that adapting and evolving will be necessary, even as we grieve the losses.

We have been moving through this somewhat sequentially addressing the largest most pressing issues like checking in with our community members who are at greatest risk and investigating and learning the new tools to still be socially connected in this time when we are also socially spacious. As well as working with the closest lifecycles in adapting or postponing. This has been time-consuming.

We have called together an advisory group to help Amy and I make some decisions that include people who work at the CDC, represent the school community, the board, the ritual va’ad and the different demographics of the synagogue. Their guidance has been helpful in guiding our choices.

We have begun to put in the foundations of Jewish Life; Shabat streaming via Zoom (and a few folks willing to talk people through using Zoom via phone or video conferencing) and a daily spiritual grounding. Come the next two weeks will be more offerings and ways to connect. We will also be recruiting volunteers. We will continue to engage as a Virtual Shul with a very real presence. Please look for these avenues so we gather our community together.

All of this is in mid-process and I am so proud, even when I am daunted by our ability to change. It is a great deal to take in and digest.  

Speaking with some of you, there has also been physical anxiety. The allergy season can bring a cold effect and a number of other minor illnesses; it creates an even more challenging landscape because some of us don't know what to do and it is harder to know what we have. And as testing is just starting, we are just waiting.

If anyone is incredibly anxious, please let me know and we can find some time to talk. If you have substantial health concerns, please reach out to your primary care physician, if you have one. If not, we might be able to find someone who can consult with you, but I encourage you to use all of your resources. This is another reminder for us to take precautions seriously.

More than ever dealing with all this uncertainty requires practices to help me be less anxious. Even if, pooh, pooh, pooh, we have been exposed to Covid-19, being less anxious is a good thing to strive towards. This is why we are already offering a few things to support you with being grounded and will launch more ways soon. As I said to someone, we often need tools to help us stay grounded when our foundation is less concrete and more sand--or even jello. It takes intention and calibration and it is not always easy.  

We care about your whole wellbeing. In this week’s portion, Moshe responds to the anxiety and panic of the Israelites by extending the invitation to gather. The rabbis in the time of the dispersion from the destruction of the temple create new ways of practice, no longer sacrificing, Torah study, worship, and deeds of loving evolve.  And now we too, are responding similarly by gathering in new and different ways. 
 
With love,


Rabbi Josh

Mon, June 1 2020 9 Sivan 5780