Community in times of uncertainty

Posted on September 1, 2020

“Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and the secret wonders that fill the world.” Chasidic, 18th century, page 3 in Gates of Repentance

Are there things that get in the way of seeing the vast radiance and wonders of our world? We would normally answer the chores, work, studies, and stress of life. There was no lack of things that could preoccupy us before but now we can add Covid 19. We have a deadly virus that has uprooted our whole way of life. The routines that we enjoyed have been disrupted and altered indefinitely. And we don’t know when we will be able to socialize freely, congregate easily, or resume any kind of routine of our past.

And yet, we are here, our world is here, and there is still wonder and radiance to be experienced. We are not alone. We are part of the vastness of existence. The hawk soars above the canyon, the seal splashes in the waves, a flower just starts to bloom, and a gentle breeze brings us relief from the heat. From the tiny ant scrambling on the sidewalk, to the dog waging his tail, to our neighbor waving a hand in greeting, we are not alone. We are part of a family of life radiating out from our family, friends, community, including creatures that walk on ground, fly in the air, and swim in the sea. We are part of a wondrous world. It is here. We only need to remove the hand before our eyes. We just need to look and to see, to truly see and appreciate the gift of life.

Our High Holy Days can help us sense the radiance of our world and remind us that we have a precious role to fulfill. We are here for a reason and every day is gift. Prayer can connect us with each other and with God. Our sacred texts link us through thousands of years of history so that we can picture ourselves standing at Sinai like the ancient Israelites did so long ago. The time for worship helps us sense the sanctity of time, another year passing, and marvel at all that we have experienced.

Even with the changes this year, we will continue our traditions and melodies so you can have a meaningful prayer experience. All our services will be Live Streamed, mostly from the sanctuary. Some services, we will offer some limited outdoor seating such as for Selichot, Erev Rosh Hashanah, and Kol Nidrei. Will we be able to have any indoor attendance? It is unknown as this time. We will see what Governor Newsom directs for our state and wellbeing. We do know that our choir will sing virtually, the Cantor’s voice will elevate us, and the piano will be played. I am working on my sermons, even now, as I write this to you.

We are committed to offering you the best experience that we can, whether you are streaming from your living room in Southern California or the North East, or you are attending under the stars here. May you and your family be healthy and may you be able to sense the beauty of our world and have a sweet new year ahead. Shanah Tovah