Together Again

Rabbi's Message - June 8, 2021

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

הנה מה טוב ומה נעים, שבת אחים גם יחד

Hinei Mah Tov u’Mah Naim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for us to be together.

This past Saturday a small group of us gathered in our sanctuary for our first in-person Shabbat together in more than a year.  Appropriately, we began our service with a moment of prayer.  We recited Shehechiyanu together, thanking God for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach that moment.  

I have spoken those words on numerous occasions, but this Shabbat they were sweeter on my lips than usual.  It felt like an authentic expression of gratitude – it felt like a deep breath.   There was something especially meaningful and holy in helping create that sacred community.  And it felt wonderful.  This pandemic year has offered us time – lots of it – to think about the things that matter to us, including faith.  I have enjoyed reflecting with so many of you about what elements of our prayer services are most important to you and why.  Unfortunately, we have had to go beyond our comfort zones. But the conversations that ensued as a result provided insight and appreciation of experiences that we once took for granted.  

Zoom services, though they allow us to be connected and feel a part of an online community, have their limitations.  We enjoy wishing each other a Shabbat Shalom and checking in with one another.    We like that it is an alternative for those who do not drive at night or who travel all the time.  But it did not allow for physical connections, which is the element we most appreciated this past Saturday morning.  

I know many of you have shared that it is hard to connect with the congregation electronically. If this is you, I strongly urge you to take advantage of our summer in-person prayer opportunities.  Being together will fill your heart and bring joy to your soul.  Our next service will be in two weeks on June 19.  We hope to see you and would love to see all 20 spots filled.

I am also looking forward to this Friday when we will gather again for our last Taste of the Jewish Cultural Festival celebration.  If you have not had the opportunity to stop by, this is the time!  It will be fun to wish a Shabbat Shalom to one another in person, and who doesn’t look forward to a visit from El Meson's food truck?  I have been touched by the large numbers of people from the non-Jewish community who have made the effort to come to our Taste programs to support us.  Let’s show our appreciation by showing up in strong numbers, as well.  After all, how good it is for us to be together.

In-Person Services Resume

We are proud to begin offering limited in-person worship opportunities on Saturday mornings, beginning on June 5.  Services will take place in the sanctuary with social distancing and masks required.  You must make a reservation to attend, and space is limited to 20 people.  Priority will be given to those with Yahrzeit remembrances.  

Register below:

June 5 at 11:00 a.m.
June 19 at 11:00 a.m.
July 10 at 11:00 a.m.
July 24 at 11:00 a.m.

Please note that Friday evening Shabbat services will continue to take place over Zoom during the summer.

Rabbi’s Message 6-9-20

Evolving Together

A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz

June 9, 2020

Change is always hard.  It’s even harder when it happens quickly, without warning, and without even a glimpse of what a new normal might look like.  This was March 2020, from a year that practically promised us clarity of vision. 
 
When this began, our focus was on meeting the most pressing of our needs:  reciting Mi Shebeirach and Kaddish “together,” providing pastoral care, celebrating Passover as a community, and continuing ongoing education classes. 
 
As the situation evolved, we, too, have evolved. We brought new opportunities for learning, spotlights of hope, resources for support, and original prayers for new experiences.  We used Zoom to boost virtual gatherings and one-on-one conversations and began researching new technology to move us forward.
 
This has been a hard road to navigate, but we finally have a clearer view of what the immediate future might look like.  We have learned about Covid-19 in religious institutions and the impact it has on worship experiences.  There is a lot happening in the world to process and we process it better together.  It is clear that increased virtual interactions will be key to moving forward as a community in isolation.  
 
Many of you have told us you miss praying together on Shabbat.  We have missed you too and are anxious to see your faces and be together again.  This Friday, we will finally go live for our evening Shabbat worship services.   I hope you will join us, as your presence will allow Shabbat to be even more meaningful for us all.