A Message from Our Rabbi
March 25, 2020

“The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.” [Leviticus 1:1-2]

This week’s Torah reading begins a new book of the Bible, Leviticus. The opening chapters of Leviticus focus on the elaborate system of sacrifices which formed the core of Jewish worship during the Temple period. Animal sacrifice, of course, has not been part of Jewish practice for nearly 2000 years, and reading the procedures in our own time can feel not only irrelevant but disturbing, so far are they from the Jewish worship we know and which provides comfort and meaning for us on an ongoing basis.

It’s striking, then, that we collectively enter into Leviticus at a moment that the forms of worship we’re accustomed to are being upended — where instead of gathering together in synagogue we’re joining from our own homes, where instead of face-to-face interactions we connect virtually through screens. And it’s also be powerful to realize the way this different mode of worship can bring more people into our services this way, people who may find it hard physically to make the trip to synagogue or have been too busy to attend services with the commitments that until recently claimed our time. The point is that Jewish worship has always evolved, responding dynamically to the different circumstances of the times, always in deep conversation with what came before but charting new ways to be meaningful and relevant, and this is part of the secret of the Jewish people’s resilience throughout its entire history.

So as we dive into the brave new world of Zoom minyans and virtual shivas, let’s remember that we’ve been here before - that long-accepted truths and orthodoxies have regularly been swept aside in Jewish life and we’ve generally come out the better for it. As long as we hold the concept of building holy communities that place Godliness at the center, we are holding onto the core of Jewish living and mission - no matter what particular forms our worship takes, or may come to take in the future.

This Friday , please join us by Zoom for Shabbat Mishpacha services on Friday at 6:30 pm , complete with a blessing for March birthdays. (Click HERE to join via Zoom; click HERE to view an online copy of our prayerbook)." Shabbat Mishpacha" means "Family Shabbat" and the service will be geared toward school-age children, as well as appropriate and engaging for adults, so I hope you’ll take advantage of our Zoom format to bring your whole family together for our service, which will include Cantor Harrison chanting words of Torah and a story from me, rather than a sermon. As a reminder if it is your practice to light Shabbat candles, please have them ready so we can all join together in lighting candles and share in welcoming Shabbat, and perhaps wine to join in with Cantor Harrison for kiddush.

On Shabbat morning we will come together by Zoom for Torah study on Saturday at 10:00 am (click HERE to join). And once again you’re invited to get in the Shabbat spirit early by joining us for our ECC Shabbat on Friday at 10:30 am with the youngest members of M’kor Shalom (click HERE to join via Zoom). You can get in the spirit by showing up in your pajamas like Cantor Harrison and I will be doing - although we’ll also allow people to attend even if they’re dressed in big-kid clothes!

Finally, most people’s Seders are going to look a good deal different this year. Whether you’re leading a Seder, participating in one, or are just interested, I hope you’ll join me next Wednesday at 10:30 am for my session “Hosting a Passover Seder in the Age of Coronavirus” (click HERE to join via Zoom). We will be sharing ideas for how to use creativity, technology and other means to craft meaningful Seders, as well as exploring the resonance between the themes of the Seder and the current situation. It will also include a primer on Seder basics for those who haven’t led a Seder before and find themselves cast in the role of leading this year for the first time.


Rabbi Joshua Waxman