Dear Temple Sholom Family,

O n this last day of Passover, as the pandemic ensues, we find ourselves in the period of Counting the Omer . This is a way that we as a Jewish people examine the worth of our days, literally counting 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. Currently, some of us have done this type of examining by rereading the writings of Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychologist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning.  He conveyed to his readers and patients “that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.” This message brings us both solace and courage as we confront our present conditions. 

Hence, an article caught our eye last week entitled, On Coronavirus Lockdown? Look for Meaning, Not Happiness Emily Esfahani Smith harnesses Frankl’s wisdom as she encourages all of us to cultivate the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in life’s moments despite our suffering. She writes, “It’s not the adversity itself that leads to growth. It’s how people respond to it.” Our Temple Sholom Community has responded to the present circumstances in meaningful ways this past week, filling us with hope and gratitude, leading to our growth. 

We have found meaning in our Seder gatherings , both as a community and with our individual families. Many of you shared your stories of gathering with distant relatives and friends across the globe that felt as warm as they did unique. 

Our Shabbat Services have given us hope. Hearing familiar melodies, listening to words of inspiration, and connecting with our community during the “virtual oneg ” punctuated our week, bringing stability and light. We have especially loved dancing and sharing stories at Tot Shabbat

We are grateful for a community that understands the value of service to others.   Not only do we continue to serve our Monday Meal curbside to our guests with dignity and compassion, we also have made donations to our community partners on the front-lines with people in poverty. 

The efforts of our youth inspire us to grow. Lauren Tapper, a member of the Orr Shalom Youth Group Board, has created Covid TV , an online community for teenagers worldwide to share their coronavirus stories.  Julie Paradise’s granddaughter, Anna, organized her entire Senior Class to write letters of comfort and support to folks most vulnerable to Covid-19. Not only do projects like these help us find meaning, they help others maintain hope even in these conditions.

For some of us, finding meaning can be elusive without professional help or extended support.  Click HERE for Mental Health Resources. 

As we continue our Omer Count, let us reflect on moments of growth by seeking out the good, acknowledging our pain, and counting our blessings.

As Stacey Zisook Robinson writes:

Count them all.
Gather them up;
Breathe in
seven breaths of seven
and lay them at
the waiting altar
that stands in the shadow of God.
Lay your counted glory there -
an offering:
a psalm of blessing
and hopeful benediction.

Lay it all down
and fly.

Wishing you and yours continued good health and safety.

L’sholom ,

Check out tomorrow’s Weekly E-Blast for links to Daily Kaddish D’Rabbanan Gatherings, Temple Sholom Programs, Education Classes, and Shabbat Services—including this Friday night’s Service featuring Rabbi Josh Weinberg , Executive Director of ARZA, and Tot Shabbat .


This week we invite you to join the 6th Grade Class in writing letters to elders who are in Elder Care Facilities. No need to write to anyone specific, you can just write, “Dear Friend…” Many people are feeling especially alone right now. Words of encouragement and support remind our elders how much they are treasured. Please address your letters to: A RESIDENT THAT COULD USE WORDS OF SUPPORT. We encourage you to write to residents at the following: 

The SelfHelp Home                                     Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation
908 W Argyle Street                                     9700 Gross Point Road     
Chicago, IL 60640                                       Skokie, IL 60076

Brookdale Lake Shore Drive                     Brookdale Lake View
Chicago, IL 60657                                       Chicago, IL 60657