Dear PCS Community,
"Why is this night different from every other night?" Those words will have a lot of extra meaning at our Seders this year! We are celebrating in different ways this year, unable to have the usual joyful gatherings of extended families and friends in person. Fortunately, we do have the technology to meet virtually, and the religious flexibility to do so.
We are all doing what's difficult together, so that we can preserve life and help all of society get through this challenging time, to better days ahead.
Many phrases and ideas from the Seder will surely echo with us this year in new and relevant ways: The very name of "Passover," for example. Like our ancestors on the first Seder night, we are urged to stay home for our health and safety.
The 10 plagues--all too relevant (not only the Corona Virus, but other environmental and social woes) that have occured in recent months.
On a more positive note, we reconsider the meaning of the parting of the sea and our hopes for freedom. Freedom may have a new meaning for many of us as our priorities shift to consider what is really important to us in life.
Likewise, the figure of Elijah the Prophet inspires us to be the person who checks on our friends and does kind deeds for others.
And "next year in Jerusalem" is becoming "Next year with everyone together!"
I know that this is a hard and stressful time for everyone. Please know that although we may be temporarily isolated, you are not alone. Your PCS community is here for you. Our staff and board have been reaching out to call congregants on the phone, but if you haven't heard from us yet, please feel free to contact me (email@example.com) or Marcy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are meeting frequently on Zoom. Drop in for our Kabbalat Shabbats on Fridays at 8pm for beautiful music by Aydin Mayers and inspirational moments and stories with me - and just to see everyone's friendly faces! Enjoy Torah Study on Saturdays at 11am to see friends and learn timeless wisdom. I also lead a bedtime story and Shema for the kids each evening at 7:30pm (except the first two nights of Passover) and we are offering special Hebrew school classes on zoom, with info being sent out to parents.
For security reasons, I would rather not put the logins on this blog, but you can email me for details: email@example.com.
If you need some one-on-one support, we are offering counseling by me, the rabbi, (firstname.lastname@example.org) and by our Westchester Jewish Community Services Partner in Caring, social worker Jill Schreibman (email@example.com).
We have several members who have offered to shop for others (Marcy can provide names: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
For Pesach, we provided free or donation-based Passover meals from a grant, and are offering three online Seders led by myself and by congregants (see an email from Marcy about how to log on to those, or email me). And check out my previous blog post for some digital haggadahs that you can use if you are running a zoom or Skype seder for your own family. (And in the post before that, I suggested tzedakah funds to help our neediest neighbors through this difficult time.)
My friends, this Passover, we will gather separately, but with one heart. I'm thinking of all of you and looking forward, please God, to the time when we can all be together in person again.
Next year in Jerusalem! Next year (and sooner)--may we gather at home and at shul together again!
With many blessings for health and happiness,
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan
PS: Here are some relaxing guided meditations that I have recorded and posted on my personal website:
And here is a timely Seder supplement that includes a contribution that I wrote:
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan shares her thoughts (and some original photos) and invites your comments.