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let's open the door together

06/18/2021 09:28:12 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

We are in this transitional period between strict quarantine and herd immunity. Since there are few Americans alive who can tell us what life was like during the 1917 pandemic, no one has personal experience in navigating this unexplored terrain. The CDC says one thing, states may agree or disagree, well-meaning doctors and scientists release social media videos that claim something else, and we may likely have disagreements within our own families. When do I mask and when do I not? How long does my inoculation last? Can I catch it from someone asymptomatic? Can I sing out loud in synagogue? Can I shake people’s hands, or even be so bold as to hug someone?

I do not pretend to offer answers to these questions that might soothe you, but I can state without any doubt that we are taking all the necessary precautions that we have been advised to do by a trusted doctor while holding our Shabbat morning services. We might be a bit more cautious than some synagogues, and perhaps a bit looser than some. We will always have the health and well-being of everyone in attendance in our minds with all that we do. As we learn more and as the prevalent medical advice evolves, we will continue to remain informed so that any decisions we make continue to be upon the best possible advice we can receive.

That being said, it has indeed been joyous, if not with moments of ecstasy, as we greet in person people that we have not seen in sixteen months. To answer the singing question, yes, it is safe to sing if you have been inoculated, and you are encouraged to do so to the degree that you are most comfortable. Shaking of hands and hugging is a personal decision, and I can only tell you that I ask each person when I greet them what they are most comfortable doing. Some people prefer the Asian custom of bowing, some rub elbows, some fist bump, some shake hands and some hug. Regardless of your greeting, joy is afloat in our sanctuary, and you are most warmly invited to join us to experience anew the uplift of in-person services. Since I am currently the only one who will touch the Torah, that includes hagbaha, the lifting of the Torah at the conclusion of the Torah reading for the entire congregation to see. Apparently I had a greater energy burst than normal, for my daughter later surprisingly mentioned to me: “Dad, that was some hagbaha. You did six columns!” You see, the normative number of columns is three, so, I guess I was a bit enthusiastic. That also might be my way of stating that I’m enthused and excited about our return to in-person services, and I warmly invite you to catch the enthusiasm. Finally, something safe to catch that won’t harm you, yet might even be habit forming.

God hasn’t left our presence in these sixteen months of virtual services, but, have you invited God in? It is less complicated than it might seem. You just have to be willing to open the door. Not sure how to do that? I can understand. That’s why I’m here. Join me for services and let’s open the door together.

Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782