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03/16/2020 12:00:00 AM


Dear haverim,
I assume the last few days have been a blur for you as they have been for me.   I was following the development of this coronavirus scare with concern but it all changed late last week- the NBA cancelled its season!  In one move, everything seemed to follow.  The sporting world seemed to lead the way- people’s attention was immediately riveted.  The NHL, MLB, March Madness and the NCAA, governors, mayors, and POTUS would follow suit- we had a war on our hands- different from what most of us had ever imagined.
The stress level has been tangible.  There are those who feel they are untouchable; they proceed as if this is a big scare; nothing will still the bravado of some.  And, then there are those who have hoarded the packages of toilet paper and let their fear get the best of them.  For most of us, we strive to read the latest news report, acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic, and attempt to follow the lead of the authorities.  Panic is never the solution but believing we are invincible is outlandish. 
I cannot begin to share with you how impressed I have been with the way in which so many of you have responded to this stress.  On Sunday we had a beautiful wedding in our sanctuary- it that had to be dramatically modified to reflect our country’s concern for COVID-19.  Tomorrow we will have the first funeral of a dear member of our congregation while in the throes of this pandemic.  I cannot begin to tell you how understanding the family has been, while the simple gesture of decency and dedication demonstrated by the members of our Hevra Kadisha has been remarkable.  I have spent hours on the phone with families who have had to change Bar/Bat/Mitzvah plans after years of imagining every last detail.  Time and again, I have been told, “Rabbi, I know you are doing the right thing.  The leadership of the shul is looking out for the well-being of everyone.  We will be okay- we understand- we simply wished it had been otherwise.” 
I write to share with you in a few short words this evening that we need each other right now more than we know it.  The measures implemented by those who have guided us along this path have changed everyone’s life.  Children, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues- each of us has a new frame of reference today.  It changed, literally overnight. 
I ask you, please, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  There are so many good people in our community with exceptional resources.  If you need assistance please don’t refrain from letting us know that a warm meal would make a difference in your life.  Let us know that a virtual call from a congregant would brighten up your day; perhaps we can help with other needs some of you may have at this moment.  We are in the midst of establishing a set of protocols that will, hopefully enable everyone to better address this new reality that has defined our lives.  Everything from daily minyan to study sessions, children’s class level learning, Shabbat minyan, and warm meals- and many other issues- have to be addressed.  You will hear much more from us over the course of the next few days. 
I saw a meme yesterday that I think captures our situation so very well- I am sure many of you have seen it as well.  I believe it captures so much truth in a very few words.  “Your grandparents were called to war.  You’re being called to sit on a couch.  You can do it.”……We certainly can do it and we will grow from this experience.  It is a different kind of war than imagined by most of us.  But, we can do this; we can practice “social distancing,” we can adopt new aggressive hygiene practices, we can change our ways to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our greater world.
I invite you to read the following piece written by one of the leaders of our Conservative Movement, Rabbi Brad Artson, one of the first Scholars-in-Residence of our congregation.  I believe this thoughtful, reflective work represents the kind of response we are capable of initiating. 
Erev Tov,
Rabbi Stefan J Weinberg
Thu, April 15 2021 3 Iyyar 5781