A Synagogue is Not Just a Building

by Roselyn Allen, April 30, 2020

We often ask ourselves whether a synagogue is simply a building. In this time of COVID19 we’ve seen that Solel Congregation is much more than that. These past several weeks have been unique and challenging times for our community. Though we have not been able to meet in person, we are lucky enough to live in an era when being together is not dependent on being in the same physical space with each other. We are privileged to have online resources, virtual meetings and of course, the telephone.

Solel has been lucky enough to have been live streaming Shabbat and Holiday services for years, and though, at this time, Rabbi Pollack stands alone in the sanctuary, her leadership, teachings and voice reach us wherever and whenever we wish to hear it. These services are archived on our website so we can go back and view them again – for example if you missed David Naylor’s Yom HaShoah presentation you can go back to review it.

Through the Zoom platform our virtual programming has included Rabbi Pollack and Rabbi Englander giving a presentation on Passover preparations during a pandemic, a wonderful on-line Seder, gatherings for parents with Rabbi Pollack and weekly lunchbreak discussion. Ron Miller has led Sunday song sessions for our Bet Sefer Solel children and families, and we have connected with our Darchei Noam sister congregation in Ramat HaSharon over Zoom, most recently to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Though B’nei mitzvot and other celebrations have had to be postponed, we are discovering new ways to gather for class services and holidays for the time being.

We have a dedicated board and committees who continue to meet regularly through video conferencing. Rabbi Pollack, Arliene Botnick, and Carol Van Thyn have all been working full time and Solel phones have all been forwarded to their home offices. Our board and staff have been making phone calls to connect with and check on all of you directly. We encourage you to continue calling us if you have any additional needs, from grocery delivery to moral support. In addition, if you would like to help out there are several opportunities, from contributing financially to the synagogue, to making masks, projects for seniors’ residences and grocery shopping. Please contact Solel for further information on ways to give back.

COVID19 has required all of us to be flexible in ways we never expected. Solel is looking to the future, and as society reopens, we are making plans to reopen our building, to be together in person at Bet Sefer, and to see each other as we celebrate Shabbat, holidays and life cycle events, and our Annual General Meeting. We are planning our building renovations and 50th anniversary celebrations. It will be lovely to share Jewish food but for now we’ll make do with photos and recipes.

A synagogue is not simply a building, but it will be nice when we can all meet again in ours.

Filed under: President's Message

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