Message from Rabbi Berman
People tend to remember important events, and where they were when those events happened. I remember where I was when I heard of assassinations, starts of wars, and natural disasters far away. The good times I remember were more personal: concerts, graduations, weddings (including my own), children joining the family, meeting famous people—
and the evening of June 11, 2021.
Were you there? It was so nice. After fifteen months of livestream and Zoom services, real, live people showed up for Shabbat in person; people who weren’t in our pods.
More than 80 people gathered for a light Shabbat meal in the courtyard and services on the grass. Hearing the familiar strains of TBE davening live from Cantor Zev Brooks, I reflected on the fact that for over a year I was the only one actually hearing him without the intervention of a computer. Now I could not only kvell over the purity of the sound; I could also see those of you who were there clearly reveling in the crisp air and sweet sound. We were back. It was a new beginning.
That night I invoked the beginning of beginnings: Creation, Genesis. But perhaps more relevant here is the familiar motif, in the Tana”ch (Bible) and throughout our long and honorable history, of exile and return. We were exiled from the Garden; we’re still trying to get back. We went to Egypt when Joseph was the vizier and wound up staying for some 400 years, and then it took 40 more years to get back to the Land. We were exiled to Babylon; it took another 50 years before some of us made it back. The Hebrew Bible ends on that note of return, in order to remind us that no matter how many times we are forced to leave, there will be a way back. And now we’re back, like many synagogues across the land, from the pandemic exile.
But let’s return to the first verses of B’reishit, Genesis. Recall that for every day of creation there was evening and there was morning—a new day. Creation happens every day, as the siddur says in the first blessing before the Sh’ma. Every day is a fresh start.
That’s what erev Shabbat on June 11 felt like. A fresh start. Though we have a ways to go before we are completely free of the virus and some of the restrictions it brings, our community is starting to come back.
This is the last issue of Tidings until shortly before the High Holidays, so keep an eye out for email and keep your ear to the ground for more information. As of this writing, arrangements are not as settled as they soon will be. But our comeback has started, and I, for one, am so glad. I look forward to seeing you in shul.
Don’t be a stranger,