It Takes A Village

L’shanah Tovah, to everyone! Every year in the Fall, our community comes together to observe the sacred Days of Awe, a time of renewal, reflection and recommitment. The High Holy Days are always a tremendous communal effort, requiring so many wonderful individuals in our congregation to join forces to create these special experiences that make up the High Holy Days. In this particular moment in our history, however, when our sense of community is even more important, ever more necessary, we truly came to appreciate how it takes a village to envision, create and implement a brand new way of experiencing these holy days; and yet enabling us to also retain the familiar and comforting ways that we have come to know and love.

From the excited cars filled with families (and dogs!) and individuals driving into the synagogue parking lot to receive a special High Holy Day gift bag and to hear the blast of the shofar to the shining faces radiating from their sweet zoom-sanctuaries throughout the holidays to the music that carried us away to the beautiful gathering in the park for Tashlich to the final blast of the tekiah gedolah at the end of Yom Kippur, we shared so many special moments together that reminded us of how deeply our lives are intertwined and what a blessing we are to each other.

While I hope that these Holy Days will be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience for all of us and that we will be able to be all together next year on the Bet Haverim campus, the feedback we have been receiving about the holidays have been very positive and heartwarming. Many have commented that the services felt personal, meaningful, relevant and inspiring. Many enjoyed the opportunity to not only “see” one another but to also interact with each other in break out rooms.  There was a great response to the music, too. We should all feel very gratified by the way our community came together in such a wonderful way, under a less than optimal situation, to demonstrate the vitality and resiliency of our Bet Haverim family. Many of these ideas will continue to inform how and what we can do as a community on zoom. I would love to hear about your experience. So feel free to drop me a note by email or post.

Our incredible village starts with Doug, Saumirah and Wendy in the office and my partners, Pia and Ardyth, who all worked a zillion hours to make sure that all our programs, events and services ran as smoothly as they did. We also owe a tremendous thanks to Tim Kerbavaz, who performed outstanding magic in helping us with all of our technological feats. Our Board of Directors offered great support and showed up in numerous ways to provide whatever was needed. To all of them I offer a hearty Yeshar Koach of congratulations!

Special thanks, also, are due to Rabbi David, whose thoughtful and inspired leadership was so valuable to me and our entire community. He was a fabulous partner, not just in leading services, but in organizing and coordinating behind the scenes to get everything ready, too. Our davenning team, comprised of Ernie Biberstein, Rebecca Plack, Dan Tennenbaum, Ken Firestein, Virginia Lantry, and our very own, home grown kol nidrei soloist, Student Rabbi Leah Julian and Maya London, were, once again, wonderful and uplifting leaders in our community. I want to extend a special thanks of appreciation to Rabbi Seth Cattleman, too, for leading the Family programs and services and Bob Smith who joined Rabbi Seth in providing the inspiring music. I am also so thankful to Sarah Pattison and Meryl Rappaport and the CBH Songleaders for the musical accompaniment to our Slide Show, and to Rabbi Cynthia and Student Rabbi Leah Julian for leading study sessions. Suzanne Nitzkin also provided invaluable support in organizing and coordinating our family services and gatherings.

All in all, this was an incredible team effort and I am thankful to our Ritual Committee, under the leadership of Mark Joske (and PowerPoint slide maven extraordinaire), and the HHD Dream Team, who played such an important role in helping to conceptualize how these Holy Days could look. I feel very blessed to be a part of this loving community and thank each of you for your trust in us and joining in making this a most memorable High Holy Days.

Wishing you a year of fulfilling sweetness, light, hope and transformation that continues to move us toward the world of our dreams,

Rabbi Greg