And we went large, attempting to make a worship experience that would be moving and inspirational, even if it was watched on a screen or phone. Since that Friday night TBA Shabbat services have had over 100,000 views on Facebook, and we didn’t miss a beat in any of our other programs. The last month we’ve had up to four times as many people join us on Zoom for the classes we normally do in person.
As a caring community we wanted to establish continuity, and we were committed to making sure people knew that we were going to be here. We weren’t going to go dark—we were to have some semblance of stability in the midst of a lot of craziness and fear and panic and uncertainty. We are committed to be a beacon of hope and love.
Over these last weeks we shared Seders with celebrities, and congregants across the country, with our oldest and youngest. We commemorated Yom HaShoah with survivor Margot Webb, who reflected on the experiences of her life and imparted her wisdom. On Israel Independence Day we celebrated with Consul General Dr. Hillel Newman as well as other special guests.
As we look ahead to the days ahead, there is so much still to come. Shavuot, our next major festival, begins Thursday night, May 28. In ancient times, our people made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year to mark pivotal moments in the agricultural cycle. On Shavuot, Jewish pilgrims would march into Jerusalem from the countryside, carrying baskets of ripe fruits and bread baked from the newly harvested wheat. For twenty years our community has revitalized an ancient tradition by celebrating Shavuot with the communal study of our sacred texts.
Temple Beth Ami and Congregation Beth Shalom have taken turns hosting an evening of dessert and study on Erev Shavuot. This year we will be online, beginning at 7:00 PM on May 28th. We look forward to your participation in this program, a celebration of Jewish learning and community connection.
Our Adult B’nai Mitzvah class culminates in a Shabbat service & ceremony on June 6, 2020, where the members of the group each read their individual Torah portions. This group of six very special women, join over forty adults who have celebrated this meaningful celebration with us, a deeply moving and fulfilling accomplishment. While we expect the service will be held at Temple Beth Ami, it will be streamed as well, and we hope you can join us virtually for this communal celebration.
We are still learning how to respond to this crisis, we are experimenting with new technology and testing the boundaries of spirituality and community. Each day brings challenges and opportunities. The biggest lesson—the most important lesson—is that we will get through this. We will respond with compassion; we will react and adapt to new realities while staying true to our traditions and values. We have survived bigger challenges and will continue to survive as a people, as humanity.
We will get through this together.