Dear TRT Family,
Seeing the first new moon in 5781 brings a sense of beginning. We just celebrated the Jewish New Year using a whole new format from the comfort and safety of our homes. Who ever thought about attending a High Holiday service in their living room? The anticipation for these days was so intense as the High Holiday team volunteers were hard at work since back in June.
With a focus on a complete reinventing and reimagining of what it could be and what it would be, we promised to provide you with a fabulous experience. To tell you that we knew exactly what it will look like when we started would be misleading. Yet, we let our creativity and open minds take us forward. Over many hours of careful design, together with our new clergy, the ideas became plans, and the plans became documents, software programs, links, emails, cards, music files, and video recordings. Like a big puzzle, all the pieces had to be put in the right place and a new process was invented, from registration to invitation, and then to participation in a meaningful experience unlike anything we had ever done.
Celebrating our High Holidays with Rabbi Disick and Cantor Levine felt homey, like a breath of fall air. The cantor’s lovely voice and her music filled our hearts with joy, and Rabbi Disick’s sermons not only educated us, but also underscored a call for self-reflection. I appreciated the reminder about the weavers of Persian rugs, who always created them with imperfection. For those of us who weaved every detail, it was a good reminder that even when a small thread didn’t turn out exactly as planned, the magnificence of the whole experience would still hold.
As Jen Herzog, our Membership Chair, said during the introduction to the Rosh Hashanah service: “It is all NEW, and we are very good at this NEW thing”.
– What used to be a simple honorary reading for a member to walk up to the Bimah during our service, became a personal invitation to their home through the lens of a camera, as each recorded themselves reading their portion.
– What used to be the choir practicing in our sanctuary and later singing from the Bimah had to be replaced with practice via zoom and recording voices separately. Yet, when we heard the choir during the services, it was clear that much work had been necessary to weave their recordings together and provide us with their kolot yafim (beautiful voices).
– Registering via mail, mailing tickets, or picking up tickets at the temple’s office had to be completely redesigned as a digital process, with multiple reminders and follow-ups.
– Our shofar blowers recorded their T’ekiot and T’ruot at different places around Marlboro, and those videos were not only shared on Facebook, but also weaved into our High Holiday services.
– Our Tashlich became a social action event, where we cleaned our souls by providing cleaning supplies and toiletries to the needy. On Yom Kippur we filled up Fulfill truck with food for the needy.
Everyone had access to both traditional and Rock Hashanah services!!! We were able to join any time we wanted. Of course, as President, I watched all the segments. And what else? Due to the nature of video streaming, I was able to invite my extended family members from around the globe to be together virtually for the holiday. Just think for a second, that due to the lockdown my family in Israel could not attend any temple, but here we were attending services together. Wow!
Upon reflecting, we just experienced firsthand the saying,” Those who sow in tears shall reap with joy.”
This is who we are. We are a dedicated, kind, and intelligent community. Even under these special circumstances of a clergy-transition year and a pandemic year, we were able to create innovative and extraordinary High Holidays,
We look forward to celebrating ROCK SIMCHAT TORAH on Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. featuring Nefesh Mountain. Join us for that Simcha online.
Now, to a few serious things:
Our special congregational meeting took place on September 10. Many of our members attended the zoom meeting and overwhelmingly approved the extra budgetary expenditure required to remediate the building from mold occurrence. No increase in dues or an assessment is necessary for phase 1. The remediation will include the following: removal of moldy surfaces in the sanctuary, cleaning of surfaces in the rest of the building, cleaning of all the airways, ducts and AC. We will also start examining costs associated with replacing the flooring and chairs in our sanctuary as a phase 2 to this complicated project, as our temple’s aesthetics must be a part of a longer-term outlook. Once phase 1 is completed, the Religious School will be able to go back and use the building in a format that will follow state rules, and ensure the wellbeing of our children, their teachers, and our staff during times of COVID.
We are looking into reshaping our future during 5781. Rabbi Disick has started to work with a taskforce on our next step as a congregation in a transition year. Through it all, we are staying focused on maintaining what makes our congregation special and ensuring that we keep that community spirit as our shining light while we plan ahead.
In one final thought, I want to thank everyone who volunteered their time to make this year’s High Holidays such a success story for our community.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy New Year.
Let this be a better year. (kein y’hi ratzon)- May it be so – כן יהי רצון