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Shehecheyanu part II

06/10/2021 05:26:56 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

We held our first in-person services this past Shabbat, and while I did not have any trepidation about holding a service unmasked with other inoculated people who were also unmasked, I was not sure how people would respond to the opportunity to meet in person. Would fear keep people away? Would the fact that we have not met in person for sixteen months have made religious services superfluous? Is God still in people’s lives? These were some of the questions in my mind as I entered Levy Hall, where we hold our services in Rodef Shalom.

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive attitudes of those in attendance. Everyone was delighted to greet whomever attended. The air was filled with joy, not germs. Synchronous singing replaced our cacophonous choir. I felt a spirit within me that I had not felt in more than a year. There was more gusto to my singing, more energy in my Torah study, an uplift by just being there. But even better was that I was not alone in this feeling. I could sense from those present that they felt the same way. I could see unmasked smiles in person, I didn’t have to ask anyone in the room to unmute themselves, and we reconnected as a singular community devoted to worship and study. Without sounding too lofty or audacious, I felt the Divine Presence was in our space, bringing holiness to our endeavor. I cannot recall the last time I felt so enervated.

Unless something happens that causes us to suspend in-person services again, we will continue to meet every Shabbat morning in Levy Hall at 9:45AM, and you are most warmly invited to experience what I and the congregation experienced this past Shabbat. I am hopeful that soon enough we will resume in-person Friday evening services, once we have worked out all of the technological and technical issues for Shabbat morning. We have many who join us for services virtually. Please know that we value your presence as part of our community, and that we will continue to livestream the service to you.

Permit me to share the re-opening prayer that I composed, of which I am indeed humbled that colleagues around the country utilized as well:

Our God and God of our ancestors, we stand before You today with full hearts: Grateful that we can safely gather to pray in-person; sorrowed by the immense loss of human life; happy to see our fellow congregants face-to-face; mindful of the fragility of our lives. It has been 452 days since we have stood together in this Holy Place to praise Your name and study Your Torah. As the Psalmist said: I lift my eyes to the heavens; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from God, Maker of the heavens and the earth.

Modim Anachnu Lach. We thank You for Your Divine guidance enabling scientists to devise vaccinations at such a remarkable rate. We thank You for populating the earth with so many helpers, whose Divine spark shown through this horrific pandemic. We thank You that we are able to stand today and merely offer this bracha of thanks.

We then recited the Shehecheyanu bracha, with gratitude to God for keeping us alive, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this day. For those yet to join us in person, may we be privileged to utter this bracha together when you are ready. I’ll have the Siddur open to the proper page waiting for you.


Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782