Shabbat Reflections from Shari Pochapin:

-Lynn Ungar  (March 11, 2020)

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath -
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another's hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love -
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live

This poem went viral on the internet, but I believe, as we enter Shabbat, it is a perfect poem to share with all of you.  We now have an opportunity to stop and take a moment to feel gratitude in this time when we feel anxious and scared. We need to feel gratitude for the first responders, the health care workers in the hospitals who are working tirelessly to care for sick patients, the public health officials who are trying to help us get this virus under control, the researchers who are coming up with a vaccine and new treatments as we read this, and so many others who are helping control this pandemic.  

At New York Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Laura Forese has asked everyone to take a moment at 8PM daily to stop and express gratitude to those people on the front line of this pandemic.  What a beautiful thought and something we all can do.  

In this Shabbat note to you, I want to share the incredible gratitude I feel for the  people at Sutton Place Synagogue.   
Our first virtual staff meeting

Gratitude first for Rabbi Ain, who has creatively figured out ways to continue minyan so that people can say Kaddish and will lead us in Shabbat services this weekend on livestream from her apartment, despite the fact that we can not be together.  She has not stopped since we closed our doors, she has made calls, she has led the team of educators, she has taught classes, she has been a cheerleader, she has done it all with calm and love and grace.

Gratitude for Hunter Gold.  I can't imagine how we would have functioned behind the scenes without him.  He has made sure that we move forward financially and we have the technology we need to have our services, meetings and schools. He has worked with the maintenance staff from afar and made sure that the building is maintained despite it being empty, he worked with Ira Zahler to make sure there was an option for Passover for our members who can not now come to the seder at our synagogue, he worked on new options for the gala, he has been in endless meetings, and the list goes on.  Thank you

Gratitude for our office staff.  In particular, David Frankel who has been posting some fun things on Instagram.  Instead of singing Happy Birthday when you wash your hands, how about singing "Simun Tov u'Mazel Tov" or "Deyainu."  Thanks to David, we have some variety in how we can keep safe. He has also posted an online museum. Follow SPS on instagram for all of these fun facts.  Also, thank you to the newer members of our team, Michael Horowitz and Abby Johnson for all their hard work behind the scenes. Abby is our new Membership Outreach and Community Advancement Manager.  She started on Monday and has been working hard to help us with this transition and connect with members of our congregation.  

Gratitude for Lindsay Bennett and Alyssa Schwager.  They both stepped in to run our
One of our 2nd graders attending the Jackson Religious School_
One of our 2nd graders doing Religious school
schools virtually and, leading their teachers, created content and virtual school at a moment's notice.  They have a can-do attitude and have made it work. Thank you to all the teachers who have been there for our children and to all the parents who have been supportive and welcoming to our ideas during this temporary new way of life.

Gratitude for the entire SPS community.  Thank you to all of you who come to minyan every morning and evening so that people who say Kaddish, to all of you have been in meetings to discuss our new realities, and to all of you who volunteered to reach out to our members and check on them.

These are trying times.  We need to be there for each other and love each other.  That is what we are doing and on this Shabbat, even though we won't see each other, we can feel that we are there for each other through our words and actions.

Shabbat Shalom,

Shari Pochapin

morning minyan over zoom

Our teens gathering together

KNS Student cooking with Sydnie

       Shabbat information from Rabbi Ain and Rabbinic Intern David Chapman

Shabbat services will be available via livestream tonight and tomorrow. Tonight is 6:15-7 pm and tomorrow is 9:15-10:15 am. Please go on the SPS website to click the play button to follow along. 

This week's parasha is the double portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei. 
Click Here for a Video Dvar Torah from SPS Rabbinic Intern David Chapman.
Here are resources for Shabbat learning

Torah Sparks from the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem (printable newsletter)

Pardes From Jerusalem podcast featuring Yiscah Smith (podcast)

Those Whose Hearts Lift Them, d'var Torah by JTS graduate student Nicole Wilson-Spira, JTS Torah Online

Theory and Practice, audio sermon by Dena Weiss, Hadar

Dvar Tzedek Archive, short blog posts on social justice sponsored by American Jewish World Service


 "Seder to Go" food orders must be done by next Friday March 27 and they will be available for pick-up and limited delivery on Tuesday, April 7.

Seders can be purchased in a package for 4 people or individually in increments for 1, 2 or 3 people.  CLICK HERE to find the menu for each option. Please reach out if you have any questions to Hunter Gold at 

Please place orders ASAP as inventory is limited
Pick up on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 between 2PM-9PM at SPS or delivery for additional cost
Delivery fees: $20 in Manhattan | $40 in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens
CLICK HERE to see the menu and to place your order. 

I will continue to offer daily minyanim over Zoom using the links below.


8:00 am Morning Minyan (Monday through Friday) will be accessible by zoom

phone  646-876-9923 meeting id 983 632 710 

5:45 pm Afternoon Minyan ( Sunday through Thursday) will be accessible by zoom 

phone 646-876-9923 meeting id  400 624 092


Our email on Sunday will include all the plans for March 23-27 plus resources to other institutions offering ways to stay connected

There are many ways to prepare for the upcoming holiday. Here is a checklist for the Holiday of Matzah:
If you have questions about keeping Kosher for Passover please check out the  Rabbinical Assembly guide to Passover

Suggested Readings about Passover
Practicing the 4 Questions


  • The Hebrew Free Loan Society is offering interest-free loans of $2000-$5000 for NYC residents experiencing financial difficulty due to COVID-19. You can click here for more information. 
  • Here are numerous helpful resources from the UJA Federation of NY that I encourage you to read
  • If you are looking for ways to expand your own knowledge during these days, many colleges and universities are offering free online courses

If you need any assistance with food or medicine, please reach out to me and I will do my best to assist you. If you would like to talk during these days, please reach out directly to me. This is what our community is here for.