This is an email I sent to my congregation on March 31, 2020
For those who want to skip to this week’s schedule of activities, you will find that at the bottom of this email.
Another week has come and gone. Some things are changing, some remaining constant.
As I write to all of you, I am struck by the ways in which this is both a shared and individual experience. On the one hand, we are all living through this period of heightened anxiety and (I hope) we are all taking increased precautions and curtailing the our elective activities outside our homes. On the other hand, each of us experiences this time in a way unique to ourselves. For those in the medical field, this time may be bringing an increased workload and an added urgency to our worklives. For others of us, teachers, professors and others, it has meant we are continuing to work, but how we do that work has shifted. Jobs we have been doing competently for years, we now need to relearn how to do. “Other tasks as required” has suddenly become the most important part of our job descriptions.
Some of us have no doubt seen our employment or livelihoods threatened by recent events. There may be additional, unwanted, time on our hands. For others, the additional time may be welcome, a chance to take on new projects. Some of us are trying to figure out how to cope with children who are now around all the time, making decisions about how much structure is useful and necessary, and what things just don’t matter at the moment, or are battles not worth fighting. And many, if not all of us, have cancelled plans, whether trips, celebrations or something else.
And looming over all of our experiences is the overwhelming uncertainty. How long will this last for? Which plans and contingencies enacted in the first weeks of this situation need to be changed? When can we resume planning for the future?
One of the earliest plans I (and the ritual committee) made was around the Passover Seder. Not holding it in person was the easy choice. Originally, we planned to gather on Zoom as a wider community for candle lighting and the first kiddush. After that, we planned to suggest that everyone continue with the seder at their own tables. That no longer feels like a good fit for everyone. Our current plan is begin as initially intended, with candle lighting an kiddush, but then offer people the option of continuing their own seders offline in their own homes, or to continue on Zoom through the rest of the seder with me. I still don’t know exactly what that will look like, but we wanted to make sure that no one was doing the seder alone.
As is clear, this is an evolving situation. We are evolving with it. If you have thoughts about how we can better serve you, please feel free to let us know.
All the best, David