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The Power of Community

04/15/2020 03:43:06 PM


Beth Schafer

“In awe of the power of community.” That is what my Facebook profile has said for as many years as I have had a profile. It’s true. Having worked in Jewish communal life for over 20 years, I can attest to the power a community has to come together in a time of need and do amazing and beautiful things. I have seen neighbors outside with chainsaws cutting down fallen trees after a hurricane. I have seen friends come together and fix up and sell a house for a single friend who suffered through and later succumbed to cancer at 50 years old. I have seen friends and family come together to celebrate adult B’nei Mitzvah and conversions. I have seen communities raise money for victims of violence and discrimination, as well as for those who suffer from food insecurity and domestic abuse. Our community is helping children at Powers Ferry Elementary School with our Backpack Buddies program. The power of people coming together and the good that they can do is limitless. We can all add to this list dozens of incidents that we’ve witnessed or been a part of that have moved and inspired us.

That feeling of being profoundly moved-I’ve felt it at every Zoom service that we’ve conducted in the last month. The moment when everyone sees the faces of their fellow Sinai members and their own lights up with joy and a sense of comfort, that is the profound moment when I witness the power of our community. It brings me to tears every time. What we can give each other even with our physical limitations is hope. The check-in, the smile, the note—all are ways that we can lift each other up. We are all having up days and down days. We can tap into our community on either. On the down days, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend and get some diversion from your sadness or anxiety. On the up days reach out to someone and offer that same diversion, cheer or an extra dose of long(short)-distance TLC.

There is a reason our prayer services require a minyan. While we can always offer a private prayer in the comfort of our own space, our formal prayer services require a community. The word community has in it the word “commune,” to come together, and also has the root “common.” Certainly during these days of pandemic, we know what we all have in common. So let’s remember that this great community of which we are all a part, is a font of hope for its members and the greater Jewish community. No matter what the circumstances are, no one can take that away from us.

We say “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek.” Be strong, be strong, and let us draw strength from and be the strength for one another.

With prayers for safety and good health on this Shabbat,


Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780