My Dear TRT Family,
As I am wrapping up the first year of my presidency (only a month away), there is so much to think about: our challenges, our newfound insights, and the opportunities ahead. For me, these are times of self-reflection and discovery.
The difficulties of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis have turned what may seem like a few months into a year of profound change on so many levels. Saying goodbye to clergy after 36 years of service seemed difficult enough, and then we were thrown into the unknown, with new, deep worries about our families’ well-being and livelihood. Yet, we found out that we are more resilient than we thought:
We transitioned the way we shop for groceries. We connect with our friends and family through Facetime, Zoom, or other videoconferencing. We study together, run business meetings, and collaborate using our screens. We worship while in comfortable clothes from the safety of our homes. We plan to celebrate Rabbi Weber and Rabbi Stern’s retirement using an online platform (not Zoom) with some special bells and whistles. We even get involved in social action while keeping social distancing. No doubt there is a sense of loss to what we were used to. Our world was disrupted in such a way that we can’t look back, but we can move forward.
So, what determines where we go from here? – our intrinsic values.
During my High Holiday speech I described the people who make up our TRT community as thoughtful, kind, and intelligent. These attributes enable us to maintain our meaningful Jewish purpose as we transition to a new way of coming together. While we have evolved, we have uncovered that there is a lot more that makes us a unique community beyond physical space. Let’s consider:
Our dedicated members brought their tech-savviness to create a virtual space for us in no time. Any member who joins Minyan for the very first time on a Saturday Zoom service is embraced with a smile by all, and is listened to as if they were part of the group forever. We engage in new programs that are relevant to our times, such as Mindfulness, virtual Hebrew school and office hours. I can hardly believe the depth and breadth of relationships I’ve developed this year. Yet, this should be no surprise that at a time of great distress we turn to our community and friends for support. I see how new connections are being formed throughout our congregation despite physical social distancing.
Our community is resourceful, creative, inclusive, and resilient.
This is the stuff that helps us get outside our comfort zone and build our future as a thriving community. I am looking forward to welcoming our new clergy beginning July 1. Both Rabbi Disick and Cantor Levine have worked together in the past, and I have already had the privilege of seeing how they work in harmony with our board, planning for our congregation. They both bring talent, experience, and the compassion that we need in these times and always.
As we turn to each other and to our screens, remember that every difficulty and every sorrow will make us stronger. We will weather this storm together and emerge powerfully, even more so than ever before.
Tmima Grinvald, Temple President