Message from Rabbi Berman

Happy Secular New Year!


As I’m writing this, we are in the middle of Chanukah. We’ve had our First Night Chanukah Ch’appy Hour, our Shabbat Chanukah morning livestream service, and our annual TBE Chanukah Chootenanny. This year the Chootenanny was on Zoom with Jason Feddy representing Temple Isaiah of Newport and the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County along with Rabbi Marcia Tilchin, of course. Half of our own Orange Jews, yours truly and Perry Goldstein (Cantor Zev Brooks sang on the Zoom from his home) joined in the fun from our chapel, masks on and doors open (brrrr). We are looking forward to the parking-lot candle lighting on the last night of the holiday. In these strange times, Chanukah brightens spirits.


There is more to look forward to, to brighten our spirits. For one thing the cluster-bomb that was 2020 will be about over by the time you read this, and we can slowly but steadily breathe a little easier. The big thing on the horizon is, of course, the vaccine for Covid-19. We’ve been holding the fort for way too long, and we’ve received the word that the cavalry is on its way. But they’re not here yet, but at this point, everything looks promising, and we have hope that our nightmare will soon be over.


Since I’m a rabbi and not a prophet, I don’t really know exactly how things will play out. Will the economy recover? Will the vaccine be safe and effective? Will it be distributed equitably? Will the political situation help or hurt? Will the Eternal One answer our prayers?


While 2020 was full of surprises, and there are no guarantees that 2021 will be any better, it’s in the Jewish character to continue to look forward. And our calendar can help with that.


For one thing, Tu B’Shvat is around the corner. We’ll get together on the Happy Hour Zoom session on Thursday, January 28 for a Tu B’Shvat Seder. Yes, we will miss the 96 new fruits that Jean Franklin z”l would bring, but the day itself has a message of hope and inclusion; the different types of fruit represent different types of people, all of whom are needed to complete our community. More details will be coming in a week or so.


And then there’s Purim (Thursday-Friday, February 25-26). We’ll dress up for the Zoom camera, and mutually admire each other’s costume ingenuity as we read from the Megillah of the ancient bullet we dodged in Shu-Shu-Shushan long ago. A month after that we’ll most likely be having our second (and hopefully last) Zoom Seder Pesach, and be on our way to actually seeing each other in person. That’s what I’m looking forward to most.


Some see their glass half-empty, some see it half-full, and some wise-acres see it at 50% capacity. Whichever, I look forward to raising one with you. L’Chaim!


See you in Cybershul,

Rabbi Berman




Phone: 714-772-4720

Fax:     714-772-4710