This past Friday evening I went to the Synagogue to lead Kabbalat Shabbat. I like leading it from the bimah, where I feel connected to all of you. I got into the building, washed my hands, picked up my laptop and turned it on, brought it to the sanctuary, connected it to the power, and noticed that it was updating. I sighed with resignation, knowing that it would be taking more time than I wanted, and started with my routine: rubbed my hands with sanitizer, turned on the lights above the bimah, turned on the sanctuary lights, went to my office, washed my hands, picked up my tallit, the marked siddur, a cup of water, rubbed my hands with sanitizer and went back to the sanctuary. When I looked at the computer, it was still updating. The time was now 6:10pm, and I was upset it was taking so long. I let some time pass and looked at my watch again. It was 6:15pm. The computer seemed ready to start at 6:21pm. I typed my password and watched it slowly come alive, only to get a message there were some updates that needed to be installed. I panicked – for so many of us the Kabbalat Shabbat service is a great time to connect with each other and our synagogue. The technology on which I have relied for connection during this pandemic was failing me. So many thoughts were racing in my mind, and I finally saw that the computer was ready. I tried to start the Facebook app and it would not let me go live. Finally, after a few deep breaths and completely resigning to the fact that time was not on my side, I tried again, and I managed to go live – 30 minutes after I started my computer saga.
While I was waiting for the technology to work, one thing became clear. I have been heavily relying on technology so I could feel connected to people, and when I couldn’t connect, I felt lonely. The Hebrew word for connection is kesher, from the root kuf-shin-reish, which also means to bind, or to tie. Connection is at the center of the Jewish communal enterprise. In the brief moments when I could not connect, I understood that one of the hardest aspects of this pandemic is the imposed physical distance that has the potential to become social distancing. I can deal with physical distancing. I cannot deal with being disconnected from the community. As the Hebrew root reveals, connection is a result of the maintenance of the ties that bind. At Congregation Etz Hayim, there are many ties that bind us together during this pandemic: there are Religious School events and preschool events; there are classes, meeting times, online discussions, and religious services. Join us for some or all of the events. Let’s strengthen the ties that bind us together with our community, even this (fallible) technological connection. Join me for Happy Hour (Tuesday, 5:00pm, meeting ID: 482 246 462 password: 012402), for the class on the Book of Judges (every first and third Thursday of the month, 12:00pm, (meeting ID: 848 6388 7012 password: 018942), for Facebook Kabbalat Shabbat at 6:15pm on Friday, for the Pirkei Avot discussion (Friday after Kabbalat Shabbat, meeting ID: 897 8763 9907 password: 027012), and for Havdalah (Saturday night, 9:10 pm this week, meeting ID: 416 319 894 password: shalom123).
On Wednesday, May 20, we will have an evening discussion on the movie “Facing Windows” (La Finestra di Fronte), a lovely Italian movie that our member Laura Hill pointed out to me and it will surely spark much discussion (link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83210703260)
Rabbi Lia Bass