11/12 September 2020, 22/23 Elul 5780

We are living in an ever changing world. Guidance this week, more robust than before makes gatherings for over six people illegal. Clearly this will disrupt family Yom Tov gatherings for many of us.

Sadly we will not be able to meet together for Tashlich and communal Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah afternoon. Instead we will prepare packs for families or groups of six that would like to do this themselves. Please email if you want a pack.

We will still manage our car park Friday evening services and move forward on synagogue gatherings under 30. We will keep you informed at every stage. This Shabbat, Ivriah will come into the building and we will gauge how that feels for everyone.

Franklyn, Dean and I will bring Selichot to you on Saturday evening from the sanctuary. In the meantime, as home connection seems inevitable for us all, here are some tips how to make your computer space for services feel a little different over the High Holidays as you zoom into the sanctuary which I hope will allow you to feel closer to us and the building.

When the rabbis asked the question where would Judaism be after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E, they answered ‘homes’. Each home would become a mikdash m’at, the miniature Beit Hamikdash (Temple). Shabbat tables would be the mizbei-ach (altar). Maybe we need to remember this during this insane year that keeps us out of our synagogue building.

Some ideas from around the Jewish world for managing being at home and Zooming in for services:

  • Choose your prayer space in advance, spending a few moments of individual contemplation/family discussion. Look at any possible space and think about ways to make it special.
  • Say a blessing or kavanah (intention) over it to mark it as your ‘sanctuary’. Even a scarf or table cloth might help.
  • Find meaningful objects to grace your space: holiday objects like candlesticks, a Kiddush cup, apples and honey. Cherished mementos, family heirlooms, and photos of loved ones can surround you. If you own a shofar, put it where it’s visible.
  • Move the computer space back so that you are watching the screen more than operating or manipulating it.
  • Limit or disconnect auditory distractions. Turn off your phone and email, and text message ping sounds.
  • Wear clothing that makes you feel as if it is New Year and HHD.
  • Have apples and honey ready to share remotely on Rosh Hashanah morning at 11.15am
  • Hold a machzor, even if we put t’filah or pages onscreen. Feel its cover and flip its pages, remembering the times you’ve used it before. Inscribe it with a special phrase for this year.
  • Use the last line of the blessing said at Havdalah separating Shabbat from the weekday to “separate” your sacred space: Baruch atah Adonai, hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol. Blessed are You Adonai, who separates between holy and ordinary.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and looking forward to meaningful renewal for us all whatever the medium.

Rabbi Rebecca