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Pandemic Emails

Returning to Spring

An Email to my congregation on May 10, 2020

Dear Friends, 

After a week away on a retreat, it’s wonderful to be back. The retreat was great and deeply restorative. For me, unplugging from electronics for a week provided some much needed breathing room. Coming back and discovering how little I’d actually missed in a week of news was instructive. 

In thinking about things, I also realized that that I allowed myself to get a little run down by not delineating boundaries between work and time-off. This is something I need to work on–and will be trying to take my days-off a bit more seriously. So if you don’t hear back from me as quickly on a Monday or Wednesday (assuming the matter is non-urgent), please understand why. 

That being said, I very much want to be here for you. If you would like to talk, please don’t hesitate to call me. Let me know if you know of someone I should be checking in with. If you have an idea for a program, I’d love to hear it. 

Another learning from my week away is paying attention to the natural world. For many of us spending more time at home, it may feel like we are seeing less of the natural world. But we also have the ability to pay closer attention, day by day, as spring emerges. See if you can note the changes on a daily basis as a tree leafs out. How quickly does the grass grow?  How does spring emerge, bit by bit?

I hope everyone is safe and healthy. 

All the best, David

Categories
Pandemic Emails

I’m Retreating

An Email to my congregation from April 26, 2020

Dear Friends, 

You may have noted that I’m including two weeks in this email. This is not a permanent change, but is for this week only, as I’ll explain below. 
I’ve written about the ways in which this period of social distancing has played out differently for different members of the community: those who are busier, those who have too much free time, those who are stressed and those who are enjoying a slower pace. I haven’t tended to talk about how I have been responding. This week, I will. 

When we first began this, in the early part of March, I wanted to make sure that people felt I (and the Temple) was at least as present as we had been. So I started posting more to Facebook. I added a weekly Psalms study. I’ve tried to increase the frequency of phone contact with various folks, and to be faster about responding to emails. In between this, I also redesigned our Passover Seder plans, planned a Yom Hashoah service, etc.. We took the Rabin Religious School online, figuring out what each student and family needed and wanted. 

All of this is to say, I’ve been busy, and running harder than is sustainable for me, and I became aware that my creativity and problem solving were/are not at a level I was happy about. I wasn’t doing the job as well as I wanted to. This all came to a head during one of my days off last week when I only worked 4 hours and counted that as a day off, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a real day off. 

This is not to complain. I love to feel useful, needed, etc. But I also realized that I needed to top off my spiritual batteries. As I looked into the future at the events and conferences that normally restore me, it became obvious that there wouldn’t be any anytime soon. In fact, one of the first things cancelled was my rabbinical convention in mid-March which tends to be restorative for me. 

So with permission from Debra, and a lot of urging from Eva, I am going to take a one week solo silent retreat from this Wednesday until the next. It will be a time of meditation and prayer. A week of being rather than doing (as we speak of Shabbat). I will not be checking email and I hope to not be checking the phone. Eva will be able to reach me in an emergency, as will Debra.

I feel so lucky to be with a congregation and leadership that values my my well-being. I truly appreciate this opportunity to recharge, to once more be able to think strategically rather than reactively. I am deeply grateful and aware of the blessing that I work for you. 

And if this act of self-care on my part inspires some self-care in some of you, so much the better.

B’shalom,
David