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a new and improved version?

05/14/2020 09:26:26 AM

May14

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

The continued wave of creativity that has been expressed through Social Media over the past two months is wonderful to observe, although not surprising. Sometimes our lives are just so busy that we do not have the time to devote to sharing our vast array of avocations beyond the skill sets needed for our professions. There has been a blossoming of talent on display throughout these past two months, worthy of someone creating a book to compile and preserve, a virtual “Covid Diary”. 

Beyond this creativity, there has been a demand for thinking out of the Zoom box, as I called it last week. We have been forced to devise clever ways to reach our goals, especially the ability to be physically present in the same space with other people. Virtual meetings were already commonplace in the business and education worlds, and visits with non-local family and friends through technology were a part of the regular schedule for so many. I began live-streaming our Friday evening services through our Facebook page (Shameless plug!  Facebook.org/Treeoflifepgh) on March 13, and over the weeks, many more colleagues, of all faiths, have done the same. There were many houses of worship who were live-streaming already, albeit with the intention to reach those who were unable to attend. I can recall a certain synagogue in NYC that used to broadcast their Friday evening services on the radio. Some houses of worship were ahead of the curve. Many jumped on board, as clergy of all faiths quickly had to master the intricacies of a live-stream broadcast, the specialized set of skills that each application required, and the unique challenges that came with each one. How many of us learned through trial and mostly error that you cannot “pray together” on Zoom if unmuted? When I conclude my Shabbat morning service, Shabbat in Sixty (another shameless plug!), everyone is unmuted, so that we can relish the cacophony that is the concluding hymn. It doesn’t matter to most, as I think I see everyone smiling through the chorus. Even unmuted has its’ moments.

Our innate creativity is being called upon regularly, as we continuously must think out of the Zoom box. It has demonstrated to me that we are sharpening the skill sets necessary to continue to thrive as a species. Instead of this being an evolution, however, it is indeed a revolution!  People that I never thought could master the needed steps to join a Zoom session have joyously surprised me, some even offering interesting virtual backdrops.  Most especially we have come to be mindful of those in our population who are the most vulnerable, who do need our assistance to remain connected to the community. Examples of kindness just continue to flow from a seemingly endless reservoir of goodness.

What we are in the process of becoming is as yet unclear, but I remain hopeful that it will be a better version of our selves – more caring, more thoughtful, more compassionate, more grateful. And that is good. It is just tragic that it takes a pandemic to bring this about.

Thu, October 1 2020 13 Tishrei 5781