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In a World that Feels Dark, We Look for the Light

03/19/2020 08:56:37 AM


Rabbi Sam Trief

It has been a groundbreaking and monumental week, and not in the way we would have liked. Six days have passed since last Shabbat...that day in which we settled into the idea of what COVID-19 might mean for our Temple Sinai family. And, well, somehow, we survived the week and even braced ourselves for more weeks to come. We have made it here. As each day passed, I found myself thanking God for things that I ordinarily would never even think twice about: a full fridge, a call from a very old friend, the licks from my dog; in the words of our morning liturgy, nisim b’chol yom, the small miracles of each day. Like many of you as well, this week made me think about all that I have, with the austere reminder that it can all vanish very quickly.

So, in a time that is uncertain, in a world that feels dark, we look for light. As Ahad Ha’am famously teaches about the Jewish people, Shabbat has always symbolized our light: “More than the Jewish People have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” And so, tomorrow evening let Shabbat take care of you, as it has for thousands of years. Take out your Shabbat candles, perhaps the ones that your great-grandma or your mother passed down to you, the ones that remind you of her smile. Or take out your kiddush cup - perhaps the one that accompanied you on your wedding day.

Let us all try to do SOMETHING to make THIS Shabbat SPECIAL, and to enable the power of Shabbat to enter our homes and our lives. There are many moments in which we might feel powerless with all the uncertainty. But just for a moment, let us take action to illuminate this world with our actions. As you likely already know, there are many ways to bring Temple Sinai into your home this weekend and over the coming days. We pray for the time when our sanctuary will once again be full of your smiles, young and old, voices united in song and prayer.

As Natan Sharansky teaches: “The power of Jewish unity comes when we feel together with one another, even if we are alone. Never forget that we, the Jewish People, are defined by hope.”

Please read carefully below and visit our calendar for a list of all updates and important information about how to connect with us this Shabbat and in the coming days.

I share with you a poem that has given me meaning and inspiration as I navigate these uncertain times:

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/2020

Know that we are always with you,

Rabbi Sam Trief

Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780