Shabbat Parashat B’har-B’Chukotai Rabbinic and Congregational Resilience in the Covid-19 Era: Responses Requested!

Dear Friends,

What does our weekly Torah portion have to do with Rabbinic and Congregational Resilience in the Covid-19 Era?

Here’s my story and here’s my take on the connection between this question and our Parsha….

I will begin by saying that, in truth, being a rabbi during this time is challenging. Thankfully, I have been extremely busy during this time. I have not been bored. But, as most of us are feeling, I too am feeling the pressure of our situation.

As your rabbi, and with the help of our staff and of some amazing RST volunteers, I have been working overtime to make so many adjustments. We have made adjustments to our services, to our education, to our teaching, to our counseling, to our life cycle events, to our connection with all of our families and in particular with those who are struggling and/or who have lost loved ones.. We are making adjustments to just about everything!

Just yesterday, I realized how much I miss seeing you all as you come into the RST building. You used to walk in from time to time, not necessarily to see me. Perhaps it was to work on a Sisterhood project. Perhaps it was to make a donation. Perhaps it was to fix our Sukkah. You walked in and, whether we had planned it or not, our paths crossed. And we had the blessed opportunity to catch up, to exchange ideas, to interact with one another.

I can’t tell you how much I miss that interaction.

But, I also realized, just yesterday, just how much my rabbinate had been informed by our running into one another at RST!

I just realized that now, in the Covid-19 Era, I feel like I am trying my best to serve our holy congregation “from afar” – from within “a bubble” that isolates us all from one another. And I realized that I am missing vital information that I took for granted before the era of social distancing began.

Now, more than ever, I feel the need for your input, for your feedback, for your thoughts, for your ideas, for your participation in the joint project that we are all a part of – the project of maintaining a vibrant and a vital RST congregational family – in very different circumstances.

So, what does this have to do with our Torah portion?

Our weekly double Torah portion of B’har-B’chukotai begins with the image God speaking to Moses B’har Sinai – on Mount Sinai. The Hebrew word B’har, means: mountain. Mountains have long been symbols of challenges, of opportunities, of striving, of loneliness, and of hope.

We all have our mountains to climb right now. As a congregation, we have more than one huge mountain that we must climb….The first mountain is the mountain of maintaining our connection in a time of social distancing. As your rabbi, I welcome your input, your feelings, your questions and your concerns regarding that challenge. Please take your time and let me know what you think and what you feel.

And, we have another huge mountain that is also looming ahead of us. It is the High Holy Days mountain. I want to be sensitive to the needs of our congregation but I have less opportunity to interact with you. Therefore, I am asking for your response to the following 4 questions as we consider the approaching High Holy Days:

1. Because of issues of social distancing, we may be facing High Holy Days that must be very different from our usual experience. Should that will be the case, what would you miss most of the experience we have had in previous years?

2. Because of issues of social distancing, if we have to make adjustments to our observance of the High Holy Days, what would you want to make sure we include in our services?

3. What would be your most urgent questions and concerns regarding the High Holy Days? What would you need to feel safe, comfortable, uplifted and cared for?

4. What would you be willing to do to help?

Please take some time to consider your responses and please consider your responses as the next best thing to walking into the RST building in person and catching up….Please share your thoughts and feelings with me either in an email or by phone! I am truly looking forward to hearing from you.

In the meantime, may all our mountains lead us to a place of blessing and of hope!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Gilah Dror