We Can’t Get Close But We’ve Never Been Closer 

“Fear is great, but greater yet is the truth of our connectedness,” goes a teaching often attributed to the Buddha. While we are living in a time of great uncertainty, worry and even fear, the truth of our interconnectedness has never been clearer or more poignant. From our personal places of refuge and safety, we have learned so many new ways to connect and interact with each other. Our CBH community has joined together on zoom (our new best friend!) for lively Shabbat services, Religious School classes and services, Teen events (thank you, Naomi and Tim!), opportunities to learn from and with each other (watch for “Tuesdays at Two!” a weekly zoom presentation on timely topics starting April 7th! with thanks to our Adult Ed Committee), Gan Haverim Shabbat Circle, Story Time for families with Rhoda, our Gan Haverim Director, and Ardyth, our Director of Youth and Education, virtual lunch with the rabbi (Tuesdays at noon), Torah study, committee meetings and more. We are so blessed to have such a dedicated and devoted administrative staff in Doug and Wendy, who keep us all going, and Sumira and Sari, who make sure you know what’s going on at Bet Haverim and in the larger world, and my talented colleagues Patrick, our interim Executive Director (did he really have any idea what he was signing up for?), Ardyth and Rhoda, whose dedication and creativity knows no bound. Our lay leaders on the Board and our committees are continuously stepping forward to help and offer support, which is so appreciated. Truly it takes a village to come together to weather the coronavirus storm. But together we are succeeding!

I recently listened to a beautiful teaching by Tara Brach (see https://www.tarabrach.com/ for more about this inspiring teacher and her meditations and resources) who reminds us that these difficult times that we are going through together invite the awakening our hearts. The only way through a crisis is to lean in with our hearts to strengthen our shared connections and create new ones.

First, Brach teaches, we should reach out and share with others what our experience is like, what we are going through and dealing with. No one should have to feel like that they are going through this alone. Find your team who will support you. We, at Bet Haverim, are here for you and for one another. This is what it means to be a community. Please let us know how we can help. Maybe you just need a listening ear or someone to help with shopping. We can help. Just let us know what you need.

Second, engage in helpful ways. One of the best ways to feel better is to feel useful. What gifts do you have that you can share with others? Maybe you can call someone who lives alone or is feeling vulnerable. ( you can sign up here to be a part of our La’briyut “to health” Group https://www.bethaverim.org/resources/labriyut-to-health-group/) Maybe you would like to  offer a zoom session on something you are passionate and knowledgeable about that you can share with the community. Do you love to cook, do you have a fascinating hobby or interest, would you like to teach a skill? I can help you set up a zoom to share with the community!

And third, don’t forget the goodness that surrounds you. Count your blessings every day. Take in the beauty out of doors and in your home. Appreciate your family and friends. Take the time to call them or send a note and just let them know you are thinking of them and care about them. Laugh each day and share the funny, creative posts that are making the rounds. Thank a doctor, nurse or health worker that you know for all that they do. Thank those who are providing essential services each day, like the checkers at the market and your mail delivery person. Find something to be grateful for each day.

In the end, we might ask ourselves, what will we be able to make out of this experience? How will we grow? Who do we want to be now? How do we want to be in the future? How may our hearts continue to awaken and not shut down when the corona era subsides?

May the loving and caring presence that has animated us in new and compassionate ways be the only contagious thing that continues spreading and growing as we move towards the days of Passover and beyond. May this Passover season fill you with sweet memories, lively discussions, good food, and the opportunity to connect with those you love from afar and bring them near. And remember: We may not be able to get that close but we have never been closer.

With blessings and wishes for a happy Passover,

Rabbi Greg