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High Holidays 5781

07/02/2020 03:44:42 PM


Dearest Rodfei Zedek,

We are 96 days from Erev Rosh Hashanah, the first night we should be gathering together to welcome in 5781. And to that, I have good news and some very tough news to give, difficult to even say. The tough news is (which may not be a surprise) that we will not be gathering together for the High Holidays this year, in person. We will not be spending our time schmoozing with those we have not seen in a while, perhaps even a whole year. We will not linger past the time our stomachs will allow after the completion of Neilah on Yom Kippur, to spend just a few more minutes basking in the warmth of each others’ embrace and the spiritual high we all feel after that final Tekiah Gedolah of the shofar. I will not get the chance to walk back and forth greeting and catching up with each of you.

The word that has continually been used in response to this decision is: grief. As someone recently said to me, we are very good at grieving for people but not for institutions, so let us take some time to grieve, to allow for the reality of this unusual time and decision to sink in. We have been grieving for experiences lost for several months now; process it and do not shy away from feeling sad because it is. But I assure you we will grow from this loss; we grow from approaching this weighty matter with the utmost care.

Ok, let’s move onto the good news and I assure you there is some. We are thinking about the upcoming High Holiday season and figuring it out now, so that by September 18th we will have a plan that is not merely functional, not simply an adequate substitute, but something that will fill you with the warmth, meaning, and necessary reflection that our sacred spaces do on the High Holidays. 

We will have our Masorti service, Na’aseh V’Nishma and Minyan Katan. We will have a Torah study for those who want to connect in ways other than prayer. We will include some new elements to create the most meaningful and seamless way to connect socially, finding the virtual way to mirror one of our most meaningful “services” - the one which happens in the Atrium. We will have far more participation than usual, showcasing more thoughts, ideas and faces than we ever have had in person.

The theme to the entirety of this period has been: presence. What does it mean to be present, how do we care for ourselves and our community? How can we be touched and nourished by those we, now, only see through a screen? The word that comes to mind here is: Hineni - Here I am. This word is not simply said in the Torah by Abraham in our Rosh Hashanah Torah reading or by Moses at the Burning Bush, but also each time you show up for our Rodfei Zedek community, whether it’s for our Shabbat services out of Cantor Rachel Rosenberg’s home, our communal candle lighting, or when you drop off food for those in need. You are declaring before God and each other: Hineni -- here I am -- we say this so that we know it ourselves while demonstrating it for others.

The High Holidays at Congregation Rodfei Zedek will be diminished this year in the sense that they will be bereft of your physical presence. Yet what will be missing physically will be made up in renewed spiritual growth and emotional connection for all of us as part of our wonderful community.

Thank you, Rodfei Zedek.


Rabbi David Minkus

Mon, October 18 2021 12 Cheshvan 5782