Though we currently find ourselves in a world of uncertainty, one thing is clear... This has been a DIFFERENT Passover. In the murkiness, one thing has become apparent to me: The JCC of LBI has an extraordinary array of congregants. In addition to the mitzvahs that so many of us are doing, what has amazed me the most, is that in the middle of this chaotic environment so many of our congregants have kept a very positive view. I have been making calls to check in with you, expecting varying degrees sadness and anxiety. In truth, however, most of you have exhibited such strength, resolve, and humor, that you have actually lifted my spirits. Kol Hakavod! To each of you goes the honor! (if you have not heard from me, in all likelihood you will!)
The other part that has amazed me is how "connected" we have become. We are a people for whom numbers make a difference. Every Hebrew letter is given a numerical value. The Seder is full of numerical symbols; Three, Four, Ten, Fifteen, Fifty, Two hundred, Two hundred-fifty. (If you want an explanation of these numbers, just call or email me!)
While our preference would have been to be together, let me show you what the numbers tell us about the JCC's Passover. At the first Zoom Zeder we were 55 households. (Most households had at least 2 people present. The simple math is that there were 110 people on for that Zeder). At the second Zeder we were 37 households. We had 20 households for each of the morning Passover services and Shabbat. 30 households joined us for Kabbalat Shabbat, and 27 households sang with us for Havdallah. Evening Minyans have averaged 13 households. In short, by the numbers, we are connected and connecting.
All of this said, please keep coming! Count, and be counted. Next week I will continue with our classes. Torah study, Torah Deep Dives, Psalm Day, Ask the Rabbi. If there is anything that you want, or can suggest that I do, just let me know.
At the end of the Exodus story our ancestors find themselves wandering in the desert. A desert wilderness can be scary. People can feel isolated, alone, powerless, and without connection. Sound familiar? Our ancestors received two remarkable gifts at the end of the their wandering. The first gift, was the Torah. It provided a universe-changing new way to live our lives. The second gift came after many more years of wandering. It was the gift of a homeland; a place where the people and the Torah could work together to make a better world.
As we get ready for the last two days of Passover, my wish and prayer for each of us is that we quickly make our way out of the current desert wilderness and that we find, and recognize, the gift that is waiting for each of us.
Dear G-D, full of strength and compassion, give us the ability to use the divine that is within each of us: To wander this wilderness wisely, To help others along the way, To astutely use the new lessons we have learned, To show gratitude to those who are risking their lives so the rest of us can isolate safely, and To give thanks for the blessings that we receive everyday. And finally, G-D of love, even as we remain separated, help us to be present for those who are suffering, may they feel the comfort of our warm embrace through our virtual connections. Amen.
Chag Pesach Sameach - Rabbi Michael S. Jay