Today is November 25, 2020 /

Shabbat Shalom

Dear WJC Family,

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending the first ever—and hopefully last ever—virtual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast. The presentations were as high quality as ever, the honorees were inspiring and I was moved and inspired. Thank you as ever to the Westchester-Fairfield AJC and Westchester Jewish Council, which are among the organizations that present this important program and insure its exceptional quality year in and year out.

This was my second year attending the breakfast and I again found it an inspiring lead-in to Thanksgiving. The breakfast was created as a reaction to 9/11. The organizers wanted to make a point, in the very face of hatred and violence, that what makes our nation and community strong and exceptional is the very diversity and broadminded values that were under attack. 

The nineteen years since those horrifying attacks have been turbulent here in the U.S. and around the world, but one thing this breakfast reminds us is that even as we face difficult issues and realities, we are blessed to live in this country, to benefit from the rights and privileges it provides and to enjoy the resources we have. Our tradition teaches us that whatever we are blessed with, it is a mitzvah to share that with others. Therefore, I’d like to suggest that on this Thanksgiving we should both be grateful for these rights and privileges and also commit to protect them for everyone living in this great nation no matter his or her background. The theme of this year’s Diversity Breakfast was “…and justice for all.” This Thanksgiving let us fulfill the promise of the event and of this country by committing ourselves to “justice for all.”

These are indeed turbulent and even frightening times. The pandemic is becoming so severe they seem to be inventing new colors to represent the concentrations on the maps. This Thanksgiving, we should all pray for the welfare of all those infected by the virulent coronavirus, and we should recognize that we are all effected. It is a mitzvah to make good decisions about how we celebrate this year, to protect the lives of our families and of others. In that spirit Tami, the boys, and I will be staying home for Thanksgiving and having our Thanksgiving meal as just the six of us. Of course it is disappointing to not be with extended family, but I hope you will consider a similar course. Let’s help ensure that we and as many people as possible will be with us to celebrate Thanksgiving in person in 2021.

Hopefully you also saw the email yesterday with our “health & safety update.” Almost two weeks ago many of our minyanaires and clergy were required to quarantine following a positive test result for one person who attended services. Baruch HaShem there does not appear to have been any transmission and, as it said in yesterday’s email, that is a testament to the excellent guidance of our Covid-19 Task Force and our strict adherence to their policies. Sadly, the risk of quarantine and increased prevalence of COVID-19 infections in our area make it impractical to continue our daily, in-person minyan and Shabbat services at this time. On weeks with a bar or bat mitzvah service, we will be able to accommodate invited guests and any WJC members who wish to attend in-person services.

This was a painful decision for all those involved, though we always knew that we might have to return to virtual services for a period of time and it is why we worked so hard to make the most of in-person services when we could have them. I assure you that we will restart them just as soon as it is practical to do so. In the meantime, I hope you will join us at the virtual service opportunities we have been and will continue to be providing.

This Shabbat, those virtual services have some extra spirit as we will come together in Zoom with Temple Israel Center for our Kabbalat Shabbat service at 3:20 Friday afternoon (starting with weekday mincha). We are looking forward to davening not only with our clergy but also with Rabbi Shoshie and Rabbi Adir who is serving this year as a Rabbi in Residence at TIC. See the details for joining us below.

Saturday’s live stream begins at 8:30am (though you can log in before Shabbat and leave it) with Cantor Goldberg teaching on the parsha. His theme for the morning is, “What’s So Terrible about Esau?” He will then lead the P’sukaei d’Zimra and Shacharit service solo in the sanctuary. At 10:00am we will have a minyan as guests will be present to celebrate Rebecca Dubrow’s bat mitzvah, so those who prefer to say kaddish with a minyan present in person will have your opportunity. In weeks without a bar or bat mitzvah, we will not have a minyan present, but the clergy will still lead a service from the sanctuary. Unfortunately, Rabbi Dalton and I will still be in quarantine, so we will be participating and sending Rebecca our blessings on the live stream too.

At the end of Shabbat we will come together on Zoom for havdalah at 5:30pm. Also, I am very excited this week that Rabbi Dalton has recorded our weekly video drash—I can’t wait to watch it!

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