One of my favorite Yiddish expressions is “Mitten d’rinen!” roughly translated as “In the middle of everything!” Two examples:
You finally settle down in the bathtub after a long arduous day and the doorbell rings! “Mitten d’rinen!”
It is some long-lost relative who happens to drop in unexpectedly; or you are on an important business call and a friend
beeps in on your cell phone who just has to ask you one question. “Mitten d’rinen!” Not now!
I tend to think of the end of February as a “Mitten d’rinen!” time of the year. Winter is not quite over, and Spring is just a few weeks away.
No mistake that Groundhog Day takes place in the first week of this month. It is a lovely tradition that is steeped in silliness and in anticipation of the end of one season giving way to the next.
This year’s turn of the season adds another and more painful aspect beyond the chilling effects of winter which will hopefully abate.
The pandemic is still with us, painfully with us! We all know the statistics for each day brings a shocking review of death and illness. The vaccines are finally here
as are other measures that if followed will minimize harm. It is human nature to practice denial. Some think they are indestructible and have some special
immunity from this plague. Some religious leaders in defiance have done what they could to ignore the proscriptions and prescriptions. One woman, a devout Christian,
was questioned why she was gathering at church service with hundreds of others. She cheerfully insisted: “I am bathed in the blood of Christ” which somehow offered her immunity.
Such foolishness is not limited to Christian devotees as many of our traditional brethren have also gathered for huge celebrations. In all instances, illness and death follow.
I am as anxious as anyone to return to our sanctuary filled with members. It is still not safe! We remain virtual! All of us are filled with an anxiety (or should be) about how diligent we need to be.
Many of my rabbinical colleagues often face pressure to allow services to resume in the temple. There is a wide range of responses to life cycle events. I have elected at this perilous time
to officiate at our cemetery sadly for funerals and unveilings, practicing distancing and mask wearing. Many of my colleagues will only officiate virtually. I respect their choice. Home visits
are out of the question for many. I have continued at holiday time to visit members with some trepidation. Hospital visits are not possible now. It is ironic that the holiday of masks is upon us, Purim!
Beyond the comedy of the normal celebrations is a subtext about the threat to Jewish life. It is for the foreseeable future Purim every day. I wish it were otherwise. In Hebrew the word for
patience is Savlanut. It is related to Hebrew root Samech Bet Lamed – S B L meaning toleration or suffering. There is an old equivalent in English. In a scene from the
film Dr. Zhivago, Yuri’s half-brother Yefgraf says, “He suffered me to buy him a new suit of clothes!” (The book is better by the way!)
I wish one and all Savlanut, patience at this time and not suffering. Purim and joy is if not around the corner – it is in view!
Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz D.D.
Until further notice, services will be at 6:00 via Facebook Live on the Congregation B’nai Israel Facebook page.
If you cannot make the “live” service, it will be available to watch any time at your convenience. Click here for the link to the Temple’s Face- book page:
Simply go to the page at 6:00 and click on the live video to view.
Saturday morning Torah studies will be held via Skype at 10:00 am. Ask to join by becoming a contact by looking up Yossi Liebowitz on Skype.
He will include you as a contact.
Every four years after a United States Presidential Election, I look forward to the upcoming Inauguration Day of our newly elected president.
Regardless of the political affiliation of the president-elect there is a sense of renewal and hope during the inauguration ceremony.
This year as I viewed the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, I listened to messages of unity for our nation. As I reflected on the speeches
given by each dignitary and our United States President, I found myself feeling grateful for the unity of our congregation.
Even though we have been unable to meet face to face because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz, has been
able to keep our Temple active and unified through creative use of various internet platforms. On Friday evenings we can join our
Rabbi through Facebook Live and be uplifted through beautiful blessings, music, songs and a meaningful service. On Saturday
mornings the Rabbi offers a virtual Torah Study through Skype. On one Sunday a month, the Rabbi offers through Facebook Live
“Storytime for Kids of All Ages”. Who doesn’t want to connect with their inner child at least once a month? In addition to all of this,
our Rabbi hosts a Brown Bag Lunch via Zoom at noon one Wednesday a month, during which a thought evoking topic is discussed.
I encourage each of you to check out our calendar in each issue of Temple Topics and tune in to one or all of these virtual offerings
each week to connect with each other and our Temple. The more we can see and connect with other congregational members through
these virtual offerings, the more unified we will feel and be when we are able to once again see each other in person.
We celebrate Purim this month. As we revisit the story of Esther and Purim, I think of the hope and unity interlaced throughout the story
and how Esther realized her actions were of importance to so many. The basis of unity is hope, may we all reflect on how we can continue to
be a unified congregation as we look ahead at a hopeful future for our country and world.
Speaking of unity, thank you to each Congregation B’nai Israel Board Member and congregational volunteer. Your support allows our Temple to continue to thrive.
I wish each of you a wonderful and productive February, I hope to see you soon, either personally or virtually.
President, Congregation B’nai Israel
2/4 Lisa Frye
2/7 Michael Gelburd
2/9 Judy Golub
2/17 Shirley Koshak
2/19 Maxwell Goldman
2/20 Susan Price
2/21 Sydney Brough
2/24 Pam Kaplan
2/24 Ann Kelly
2/27 Christopher Brough
2/27 Arden Levy
2/28 Helga Moglin