In this letter:
Notes from the Rabbi and the office, some links to check out, and a list of details for upcoming service news, etc. Please don’t skip the DETAILS YOU SHOULD KNOW section at the end! –Thanks
From Rabbi Eichenholtz:
As we begin our approach to Shabbat, I know this Shabbat will be different for all of us. On a regular week some of us join together at services and others celebrate Shabbat away from synagogue in their own ways. This Shabbat we will all be at home, trying to find, peace and joy, rest and meaning in the same place that has been all week, our office, our restaurant, our school, our conference room, our family hub. If on Shabbat we endeavor to do things differently to make holy time and holy space, this is all the more challenging, when we are unable to alter our physical space.
My hope here is to provide us all with resources and ideas for making meaningful Shabbat while we are physically distanced from one another. Many of these ideas will rely on technology to connect us, for some of us our Shabbat observance has included not using, or feeling guilty about using these technologies, as your Rabbi I want to urge you to reconsider this thinking. We must attend to our spiritual health and our physical health and we are embracing new ways to observe Shabbat as we gather by FacebookLive and Livestream, Zoom and phone call, FaceTime and Skype, to be with one another and join in prayer and community on Shabbat.
Tomorrow, by e-mail, facebook and on our website I will be posting three different resources. The first will be my d’var Torah for this week, by video and text so that our community can all share in words of Torah. I will also be curating suggestions of congregations that will be streaming services (clergy in empty sanctuaries, leading services) so that you can join in. The Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement has made available for download sections of its siddurim for personal use in this time of need. https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/form/form-to-download-e-siddur. The siddur we use at CAA is Sim Shalom and they haven’t yet digitized Shabbat morning. Lev Shalem is the new siddur that many congregations will be using in their videos. Lastly, I will be sending out recordings of prayers, so that you can have services and Shabbat ritual on your own, including candle lighting, Kiddush and HaMotzi.
Over the next week, we will find times and ways to use Zoom and Facebook to gather as a community. In the meantime, I encourage you to keep sharing with us–Did someone in your house have a recital, play, presentation at work, or concert that was canceled? Record a clip and post it on our Congregation Facebook page or send it to the office and we’ll post it for you. What a great way to share our accomplishments.
Stay with us; our community does not disappear just because we can’t be together face to face.
Notes from the office:
We hope everyone is managing okay with everything that is going on!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need—we are working hard to stay available to everyone in as many ways as we can. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office number at 978-534-6121. Right now we plan to continue coming into the office regularly.
With our busy lives, it can be hard to stay in touch with loved ones, what with work and errands and school and daily life—Now is a great time to make that extra effort to reconnect with friends and family. Pick up the phone, write a letter (send someone a Mad-Lib you wrote, and have them send you the finished version back!), email someone a poem, start a blog, play cards with your friends online, play charades over zoom or facetime….what else have you come up with? (I’ve always wanted to be the sort of person who sent a quick postcard to a different friend every day—maybe now is my chance to finally do it! – Protip: you can use an index card as a postcard, or cut a piece of cardstock (3.5×5 or 4.5×6))
What creative ways have you thought of to keep in touch? Please share them with us on our Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/Congregation-Agudat-Achim-Leominster-Synagogue-in-Central-Massachusetts-303759586435/
Missing the social interactions of services? Pick up the phone for a weekly check-in with your regular service buddies! (don’t forget, you have everyone’s contact info in your L’Shana Tova book!)
Staying at home can be hard for more reasons than just missing spending time with people out in the world. Being home in the same surroundings all day, every day can get boring. What have you always wanted to learn, but have been too busy to try? Lots of people all over the internet are sharing great teaching videos and posts on learning new skills—google for your interests, and share your favorites! Learn a new dance, finally learn how to knit with that yarn you bought forever ago, brush up on your high school Spanish, learn Hebrew! Look around your house and see what you can make with what you have around…make it a challenge! Congregation Agudat Achim will offer a prize to the person who comes up with the most creative activity J
Start a new routine—now’s a great time to take up daily yoga, finally start journaling, draw a picture a day, get back in shape, or learn how to do nail art (take pictures if you do this last one).
What activities have you thought of? Watching any good shows? Reading any good books? Again, share with us on our Facebook! Post your pictures, tag us in your stories, link to your videos! (You may also email the office if you do not Facebook, and we will be happy to post them for you on our website or FB)
Check it out:
Facebook group JewishLIVE https://www.facebook.com/groups/jewishlivegroup/?fref=mentions has an important mission: “During this time of social distancing, jewishLIVE is curating the jewish you want and need, in one place.” Come see what they have found, or share your finds with them!
We know every human is stuck at home, but come live vicariously through these happy animals on field trips to visit their friends:
Cincinatti zoo is putting up videos for a “home safari” which seems like a fun time! https://www.youtube.com/user/CincinnatiZooTube
THE DETAILS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Check our website, Facebook, or your email tomorrow for:
- Rabbi Eichenholtz’ d’var Torah for this week (in video and text)
- Suggestions of Congregations who will be streaming services for you to participate in Siddurim available for download so you can follow along with the streamed services. https://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/form/form-to-download-e-siddur. The siddurwe use at CAA is Sim Shalom and they haven’t yet digitized Shabbat morning. Lev Shalem is the new siddur that many congregations will be using in their videos.
- Recordings of prayers, so that you can have services and Shabbat ritual on your own, including candle lighting, Kiddush and HaMotzi.
Please keep your eye out for further communication over the course of next week as we further develop what we can offer everyone remotely.
- Passover and other Jewish activities online resources and info coming next week
Parents of Religious School students, learning packets went out in the mail today. Our principal Morah Devorah will continue to be in touch via phone and email, so stay tuned!
Reminder: If you feel unsafe at home, help is available.
Journey to Safety is 1-781-647-JFCS (5327) –a program of Jewish Family and Children Services – Boston.
National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 –also available by text and internet chat on their website.