Frankly, I was skeptical about attending services online – but it was the occasion of the yahrzeit (anniversary of death) for my wife’s brother, and this was our only option for respecting her wish to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish with our Jewish community.
As challenging as these days of quarantine have been, I take comfort in the many ways this strange time of separation have enabled us – however ironically – to come together. Here are a few of the “blessings of separation” I’ve experienced in the age of COVID-19.
The Book of Proverbs instructs us to “speak up for those who cannot speak...to raise our voices on behalf of the vulnerable and downtrodden.” (Proverbs 31:8-9). The individuals who make up America’s prison population are isolated, vulnerable, and voiceless.
Earlier this month, I joined a Virginia synagogue's virtual Shabbat services, led by its youth group teens. Afterward, I composed and sent an email to the congregation’s cantors to tell them how touched I was by the service and to express my sincere gratitude to them.
Instead of walking into Beth David’s sanctuary and settling into the wooden pews, my husband and I perched next to each other in front of my MacBook Air and logged onto Zoom, a video conferencing tool.
Our ancestors turned to that pillar for strength and support in their time of waiting; so too, can we turn for help in these unprecedented times. Here is a prayer that might be recited as we light the Shabbat candles.
As fulfilling as it was to engage in Shavuot programs, a lot weighs on me. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage Black communities and racist violence all over the news, I almost feel like it’s Yom Kippur instead – the time when Jews are supposed to be most aware of their own mortality.
This week, I tell a friend I’d love to chat but actually I have to run Yom Kippur services are starting soon and I’ve got to repent for my sins before the gates are closed. She laughs. “Well, you’re gay, so you’ve definitely got a lot of repenting to do.”
There is some small comfort in the fact that Jewish ritual offers many ways to mark life’s significant moments and to acknowledge the complicated mix of feelings that may accompany them. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.