For my article this month I thought I would give you a behind the scenes look at what has and is being done to prepare for the High Holy Days that will start this Friday. On June 16th the Temple ordered the new video equipment that will allow us to stream our services from the Sanctuary. We thought that the time-line would be tight, but we never expected that our vendor who is installing the system, would not receive the camera until Friday, September 11th and they would not start the installation of the equipment until this Monday. Hopefully, all the equipment will be installed and the system will be operational by Wednesday afternoon leaving us just a little over a day and a half to learn to use this new system so that we are ready for the start of Rosh Hashana on Friday. By the time you read this article you will know the answer.
Understanding that our new video system might not be operational in time, the Rabbi and Cantor have been feverishly preparing for the holidays using our existing equipment. This is the equipment we have been using for our Friday night and Saturday morning services, however for those services the Rabbi has been in either his office or the sanctuary and the Cantor has been in her home. For the High Holy Days, they will be together on the Bimah in our sanctuary. In addition to their own preparation, they have recorded members of our congregation fulfilling various honors that will be shown during our services and recorded music that will also be used during services. Despite all of the uncertainty, the Rabbi and Cantor have been able to put together, what I believe will be a memorable and meaningful High Holy Day observance.
In July, when the Board decided that our services and all our activities would be virtual for the foreseeable future, the Board and I had real concerns about how this change would impact our membership. Last year we ended the year with 208 memberships, and we were afraid that because we would no longer be meeting in person that many of our members would decide not to rejoin. Well, we were wrong. Our membership has stepped up and has continued to be engaged in our Temple community. As of today, we have 200 memberships with more to join before the end of the month.
As we ask for a sweet new year, for forgiveness and to be sealed in the book of life, we won’t be face to face with one another with a hug or even a handshake, but we will be connected in community via Zoom. Uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed is the new reality. The truth is, we want to be in our synagogue, however until all of us can gather together safely, the virtual sanctuary that we have created will be our synagogue. This year the seats in our building will be empty, but the hearts of our congregants will be full.
Paul B. Kanarek,
President, Temple Beth Shalom