Message from Rabbi Berman
Well, here we are. A New Year is coming, with the promise for better that the New Year always brings. Yet despite all efforts, the COVID situation has just not improved. This has implications for how we begin the year 5781 together since the viral dance of two steps forward and two (or even three) steps back does not seem to be getting anywhere. For the foreseeable future, Temple Beth Emet will continue to provide virtual services for you as we have for the past few months. As much as we would love to meet live (and at the risk of repeating what those who read the emails have already seen) that means virtual High Holy Days services.
It was a challenging decision to make, but Cantor Brooks, and I are confident that it can still be special, though different than in years past. We sent out an email on August 9 with a number of questions as to your preferences. Your answers are helping us to help you have a meaningful holiday experience. If you didn’t respond then, it’s not too late to weigh in, but please don’t delay. The questions are in this issue of Tidings as well. The feedback is invaluable as we put together and finalize what we hope is a satisfying combination of innovation and tradition. We’re adapting to the situation and trying to keep things fresh, while thanks to technology we can still bringing you traditional prayers, customs, and tunes that you love.
By the time you get this you may already have seen our emails about what to expect and how to enrich this High Holy Days season. These emails (as well as information in this and last month’s Tidings) tell how and when to pick up your machzor, the holiday prayer book, as well as other items for the holidays. Some are to borrow; others are available for purchase through the gift shop. Information will be coming via email and phone trees on our Elul programs, New Year’s cards and greetings, Yizkor books, and of course, the schedule for services. We even have a few technical mavens to help you get set up for the experience.
Before Shabbat morning livestream services at 9:30 get going, I’ve been taking 10 or 15 minutes each week to go over some of the ideas behind Rosh HaShana, and discuss the holiday prayers. How does the Torah describe Rosh HaShana? What meanings has it taken on since then? What happened? Why the shofar? How can I help you to prepare for these days of self-reflection and introspection?
Socrates is quoted as saying that the unexamined life is not worth living. If so, anyone who confronts these and similar questions has not led an unexamined life. If there is something you would like me to include in these Shabbat morning talks, don’t be shy; let me know. Come the holidays, we can hit the ground running.
This year the medium of our worship will be different, but the substance remains the same. Chaia’s and my wishes to you for a happy New Year are the same. I look forward to when we can meet in person. But until then…
…See you in cybershul,
Rabbi Berman may be contacted at