The rhythms of Jewish life

by Rabbi Audrey Pollack, October 28, 2021

November 2021 eShammas
Dear Solelniks,

Shalom, friends. Here we are, 19 months or so into this pandemic life. And things are not the same as they used to be. Our world has changed, our way of being has changed, our mental thought processes are different. What we value, how we make decisions, all of that has been called into question.

And I want you to know that I get how hard these changes and new ways of living can be. No matter what, I want you to know that I see you.

Some of you have joined us for every online streamed service since March of 2020. Some of you have only been to a few, or maybe none at all. You see me. And I want you to know that I see you. I have seen you in my mind’s eye as I looked into the camera every Shabbat and every holiday for 16 long months. Now, we have opened up the building for multi-access services to both streamed and limited numbers in-person. I see and hear those in person, praying and singing, and in my mind’s eye, I see those at home. I am grateful for your presence, for the blessing of gathering together to pray, and to talk to God.

Some of you have faithfully gathered on Zoom week in and week out to learn and study together, or to connect over lunchbreak. There may have been many weeks throughout the pandemic where our only encounter with faces and voices and eyes was through the screen.

Some of our pandemic life felt lonely, and scary, and caused us to question things that we took for granted. We have missed many friendships throughout the past months. We have missed the familiar spaces in our Solel building, celebrating rituals together in our communal space. Celebrating Jewish life separate and apart from loved ones, and family members, and friends has been a stage of our spiritual journeys that none of us ever expected.

Now, as some have started coming back into our sacred spaces, seeing people emerge through the doors, hearing the stories that we missed, and welcoming new faces that we have only ever met on Zoom, it feels like a homecoming celebration, and it is a homecoming, even though coming back may feel different.

And I know there are those of you who will continue to join in online. I love that we learned from this pandemic who and what we were missing. At the same time I am saddened that it took a pandemic for all of us to realize that we had the capacity through technology to be more welcoming and inclusive. The pandemic lifted up the reality of those whom for many reasons cannot easily come through our doors on a regular basis.

Maybe at the start of the pandemic coming to Shabbat services, or to study groups weren’t your regular thing. And maybe you weren’t sure why you were going, or if it was something you even wanted to do in the first place, but week after week you found yourself showing up for Shabbat. It gives a rhythm to life, to every week in this season that life has thrown at us.

At the same time, this past year and a half may have felt like a reset, a time to reevaluate where you have been and where you are going. Time to breathe, to take a break from all of that rushing, and going, and time to take a good look at what we had lost and what we gained and what really matters.

Wherever you are at, I want you to know that you are not alone.

I get that maybe you aren’t sure what you believe anymore, but that whatever it is you are certain that it doesn’t look like what it used to look like, and you won’t find it going back to things the way they used to be.

I understand that you might not feel like it’s safe to gather yet, for you or for someone you love.

We’re all figuring out connections and relationships and belonging in new and different ways.

I want you to know you’re not the only one feeling this way.

More than anything, I want you to know that our synagogue, our Solel family, is with you and within you.

Synagogue life, Jewish life is the people, the relationships, the wondering together about God and faith and life. We need one another. To learn and celebrate and mourn and pray. To share our hopes and fears and dreams and longings, our failures and disappointments and worries.

And as always, God will call out to you in the wilderness and meet you where you are. The rhythms of Jewish life and Jewish living are moving us forward, in this imperfect world, guiding us in the path of Torah, answering God’s call with Hineini, I am here.


Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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