Shabbat Shalom ~ Behaalotcha

Dear WJC Family,

This past Thursday we held our first morning minyan in the chapel! It was a beautiful moment and especially great because we could read Torah and do all the things that require a minyan, and the minyan counted for those present and those attending through Zoom. After 92 days, almost exactly three months, I got choked up the first time I started to lead a kaddish. I would guess it is the longest that the WJC congregation has been without a service in its building for 100 years—a dubious record and a run I am very glad to cap. To join us at daily minyan you must pre-register, so send me an email.

Click the video link below to see my reflections on restarting minyan.

This Saturday morning we are going to try our first pilot of live streaming a Saturday morning service. The service will start at 10:00am with the Torah service. We ask that you pray the Shacharit morning service on your own before the chapel service starts. There will also be no sermon, though we will give some shorter words of Torah between aliyot. A fuller Dvar Torah will be presented at the Ta’am Shabbat service on Friday evening. By limiting the chapel service to Torah and musaf, we will be able to minimize the amount of time that the minyan is together in the chapel. The service should be over by 11:30am.

We are glad to be able to offer this option to those who feel comfortable using it. Though watching a live stream will definitely not be the same as being there, it can be a meaningful way to experience Saturday morning with Torah reading and saying Kaddish. Again, logging into the minyan will count for you at home, so you can fully participate, though the folks in the chapel will not be able to hear you.

We have copies of the siddur Sim Shalom, which we will be using on Saturday morning, that you can pick up in the upper entrance to the synagogue today or next week – they are yours to keep. You can also sign out a Chumash, but we ask that you return those when this is all over. Or you can print out the Torah portion for this week by clicking here  and checking the box for “Etz Hayim: Beha’alotekha.”

Part of being able to do this on Shabbat and respect Jewish law is making sure that you can watch without having to touch your computer on Shabbat itself. Unlike our weekday and Sunday services, the Saturday morning service will be streamed in webinar mode. You will be able to see what is going on in the chapel and how many people are viewing, but you will not be able to see yourself or other online participants. The chat function will also be disabled. This way you can watch what is happening in the chapel and follow and sing along, without any reason to touch your computer on Shabbat.

The best “kosher” way to make this work is to make sure the computer is placed in an out of the way room and start the computer and the stream before Shabbat begins. When the service starts at 10:00am, you simply need to go in that room to participate. You will have to set up your computer to make sure it won’t shut down or go into screensaver mode. For instructions on how to do that, click here. Or you can click here to watch a video version of the instructions as presented by newly minted Rabbi Sam Blustin (you may remember Sam from his virtual visit in March).

The Saturday morning service under coronavirus precautions will be a work in progress, as I am sure finding the set up at home that you are comfortable with will be. It will be in our building though, and haimish and very WJC, and we hope that will suffice for now. We hope you will join online though and give us constructive feedback about how to make the service easier to access and more meaningful. The link for joining is:

Of course, we will still present Ta’am Shabbat – A Taste of the WJC Shabbat Experience at 6:00pm on Friday evening where I will be giving the Dvar Torah entitled, “Home is Where the Light Is.” Havdalah this week will be at 9:20pm on Saturday. See the links and details below.

After Shabbat, join us on Sunday for two excellent programs—at 10:00am the Holocaust Learning Center and Adult Education Committee will present “Who Will Write Our History” with special guest Dr. Samuel Kassow, and at 3:00pm the J.O.Y. Club presents our own Dr. Jeffrey Taffet on “How New is the ‘New’ America First?”

See you online (or in shul),



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