It’s an understatement to say that a lot has changed these past six months. A year ago, my greatest fear was what would happen if someone showed up at the synagogue wearing a mask, and one of my greatest annoyances was people using electronic devices during services. The good old days. Now, it seems clear to me that if anyone remembers who I am in 300 years, it will be as the guy who convinced hundreds of Conservative congregations around the world that it was OK to Zoom on Shabbat.
There has been so much about these last six months that has been challenging and terrible, so much loneliness and suffering, but I believe there are blessings that come from this time as well. That’s certainly true on a communal level. There have always been those who have been isolated and unable to leave home to participate in Jewish life. Even when life returns to whatever “normal” is, I hope we are able to retain our sensitivity to the needs of that segment of our community. My congregation has suffered some terrible losses, but we’ve found that Zoom shiva has its blessings; it forces the visitors to focus on the mourners and the deceased, rather than how to be first at the deli platter. Families have been forced to think about what really matters as they plan celebrations.
I think there is an opportunity for us to gain and grow as individuals as well. For many families (including my own) the absence of business travel, meetings and activities means that we have had family dinner together far more often. Missing in-person interactions with others drives us to appreciate them far more
What have you gained during corona-time? What new skills have you learned? What new values do you appreciate?
Rabbi Joshua Heller is the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Torah.