As we begin a new year and welcome its promise of an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and a return to normalcy (whatever that now means), I want to take this opportunity to address where we are and where we hope to be in 2021.
The Covid-19 pandemic still rages across the country and in Maryland, and health experts predict a post-holiday surge that may darken the winter months, as we await widespread availability of vaccines.

Nonetheless, the Temple’s clergy, staff, and educators continue to serve our community – in-person when safe to do so and on-line when it is not:

  • While many families still prefer a virtual service, the Temple recently installed plexiglass barriers in the main sanctuary so that in-person B’nai Mitzvah remains a safe option.
  • Machane’s “Whole Mishpachah Programming,” which has offered optional in-person programming, facilitates positive Jewish family memories.
  • Gan Ami, which begins in January, will provide our preschool children with the chance to see friends and engage with teachers.
  • TBA's on-line offerings, including Friday night services, Saturday morning Torah study, and adult education programs, continue to have record attendance.
  • TBA Cares has provided members with meaningful support in times of celebration, including Shabbat "kits" to welcome new members and in honor of their children's B'nei Mitzvah, and in times of struggle with meals for members recovering from illness.
  • The congregation has continued its financial support of TBA and charitable causes. There was an overwhelming response to both TBA's annual High Holiday Appeal and the Manna food drive, as TBA again won the coveted “golden can” trophy. We are grateful for the congregation’s generosity during such difficult times.

While TBA strives to provide the religious, spiritual, and pastoral services expected by the congregation, the relationship between a synagogue and its members is symbiotic. As the clergy, senior staff, and lay leaders wrestle with the impact of the pandemic, considering how best to engage the congregation, and evaluating the safest means to welcome congregants into the building, please remember that Covid-19 creates risk for the clergy and staff, who, like you, must balance their obligations to the congregation with their obligations to themselves and their families. To this end, in making decisions, the Temple’s leadership will not disregard or minimize the health of our clergy and staff.
Although TBA has had several Covid-19 scares, we are fortunate that our limited in-person gatherings have not resulted in a super-spreader event. In keeping with the Jewish principle of pikuach nefesh (saving a life), our priority is to protect and safeguard the health and well-being of our entire community. TBA's leadership is constantly assessing the virus so that we can respond quickly to the deterioration or improvement of public health conditions. We base our decisions on what the temple should do rather than what we may legally do. There is no synagogue playbook for reacting to a global pandemic, and I recognize the divergence of opinions concerning the Temple’s response to Covid-19. However, as I have said to some members, I now say to all members: if I make a mistake in responding to the virus, it will be an error on the side of caution. I am unwilling to be the president on whose watch the Temple hosts an event that sickens our clergy, staff, or members and their families – or worse.
Clergy, staff, and lay leadership are not focused only on Covid-19. In the coming year, we will celebrate TBA's 50th anniversary! An initial planning meeting was recently held that included Rabbi Luxemburg, past temple presidents, and other members who have volunteered their time to celebrate this auspicious occasion. While we are only in the planning phase, our festivities will include honoring founding and long-time members, creating a record of the Temple’s history, activities for families with children of all ages, and, hopefully, an in-person gala. As we continue to plan for a year of celebration, we welcome the ideas and support of members – old and new – as we commemorate the past 50 years and look forward to the next 50 years. Please contact me or Debbie Ezrin to get involved.
Finally, TBA remains committed to social justice. This past year witnessed an awakening in America, as tragic incidences throughout the country served to highlight systemic racism, as well as the rise in anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and nativism that, unfortunately, have been normalized in recent years. TBA sponsors multiple committees and groups, who champion and work for social justice. Tikkun Olam, Community of Action, Love Thy Neighbor, the Critical Issues Forum, and Israel Matters are critical components of TBA's identity and mission, and I urge all members to learn about and engage with these and other Temple groups.
Happy New Year. Be healthy, be happy, and please continue to wear a mask.

Best wishes,