Dear WJC Family,
This Sunday we are going to celebrate—it is WJC’s annual Gala and we are honoring some true pillars of the WJC and greater Jewish community. Rarely will you find two more worthy honorees than Cindy and Ben Golub, who through their passionate volunteerism and commitment are supporters of the Jewish community locally and around the world. We will also be honoring the dedicated health professionals who make up our COVID-19 Task Force. As if these folks haven’t been busy enough during the pandemic doing their very important jobs of keeping people healthy and safe, they have volunteered countless hours and an incredible amount of wisdom to enable us to continue to function as best we can. There are a lot of people who have expended incredible effort in keeping WJC together and pursuing our goal of ‘sharing Judaism in connected community’ over the past year+, but few more so than this amazing group. I hope you will join us for what promises to be a fun and meaningful virtual gala on Sunday at 5:00pm (and be on time—trust me, the opening act is worth it!). See the details here, and don’t forget to come by the synagogue on Sunday afternoon to say hi to Ben and Cindy and pick up your treats for the Gala!
Though it is important to name and celebrate the good people and things with which we are blessed, as we will on Sunday, I know it may feel strange celebrating at such a fraught moment. While the ebbing pandemic may have us feeling optimistic and we are grateful for the truce that has taken hold in Israel and Gaza, we are still justifiably on edge. We pray that the ceasefire also quells the distressing violence between Jews and Arabs in the streets of Israeli cities and stems the disturbing rise of Antisemitic incidents worldwide.
Even amid all of the violence, there are signs of hope, as many Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel stood side-by-side protesting the internal violence in their cities. Also, now that calm will hopefully hold, aid can flow to desperate civilians in Gaza (During the nine days of open warfare Israel tried to open the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza twice to allow essential supplies to flow across the border to civilians and both times Hamas bombed the crossing with mortars). Finally, Baruch Hashem, I am grateful to report that all of our members and their children who are in Israel, and as far as I know all relatives and friends of members of the WJC family in Israel, are physically unharmed if inevitably shaken.
In this week’s Torah Talk video I address what we really mean by peace when we say “shalom” and why it is essential that we all work towards that vision by supporting organizations that promote coexistence, mutual understanding, and empathy. (I know this is a long video, but I hope in this difficult moment it is worth the time.) If you are interested in learning about some of these organizations, drop me a note and I am happy to share some organizations who do great work and calm highly recommended.
Back to our more local circumstances, as the Covid-19 situation in our area improves, we continue to work closely with the C-19 Task Force towards procedures that will make in-person attendance at WJC events more accessible and comfortable. Over Shavuot, we were able to reintroduce Kiddish outside under canopies and it was wonderful! Not only was the food delicious thanks to Patty and her staff, but being able to schmooze and share a meal after services truly rounded out the shul experience and reminded us why we love it at WJC. We are taking a break from Kiddish this week while we firm up the procedures based on what we learned the first time out of the gate, but we look forward to sharing Kiddish with you on Shabbat morning May 29 and each Saturday after that.
During services, we will also now be able to welcome folks up to the bimah to take aliyot at the cantor’s lectern and we will march the Torah symbolically down the aisle (though we are not at the point when it should be touched or kissed)—small steps perhaps, but ones that remind us that we are gradually getting closer to “normal.” I hope you will join us on Saturday morning—services start at 9:15am and there is no pre-registration—just arrive when you feel is the right time and look for a seat with a “bow” on it to know that you and your pod (made up of whoever you are comfortable sitting with) are in a designated seating area. Masks and distancing are still required indoors. You can also join us LIVE for Friday night services tonight at 7:00pm in the sanctuary with no pre-registration (we’d love to work our way up to having a minyan there.) Both Friday night services and Saturday morning services are also available on the Live Stream. Havdalah will be on Zoom at 9:00pm Saturday night.