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Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Alpert

My Friend,

It has been a long and difficult week with continuously changing circumstances, and plenty of anxiety.  By now you have received many emails from Congregation Beth David with updated information and all of the changes we have been trying to address.  Earlier this week, we had to cancel the kiddush lunch following Shabbat morning services, and a few days later, we had to cancel services themselves.

Judaism has long valued health and safety above all else.  While this is not the Shabbat we thought we would be preparing for (just a few days ago), Shabbat itself is a time to reflect and to take a break from the stress of the week.  This Shabbat, I encourage you to turn off the news and alerts to your phone, if even for an hour. 

On this Shabbat, although I will miss seeing many of you in shul, and I am so sad that we have reached the level of needing to cancel services for the time being, I will be thinking about what a beautiful and strong community we have.  I have been amazed by peoples’ calm and respectful responses to decisions that were made, even during a very stressful time, even when they didn’t agree. 

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tissa.  In this parashah, Moses asks God to see God’s face.  God responds that humans cannot see the Divine face and live, but then God offers to shelter Moses in a cleft of a rock as God’s Divine glory passes by.  Moses sees God’s back.  It is an intimate moment in the Torah – one in which Moses and God share a true connection.  We cannot always see God directly, but my hope is that we will sense God’s presence as we ask for protection and well-being.

Even during this difficult time when we might feel isolated and scared, we remain a strong and connected community.  We remain a family.  In the days ahead, I encourage you to reach out to your friends and loved ones.  Let’s make use of the technology we have in order to “visit” with one another, and in order to feel the bonds of community.

Danny and I wish you a peaceful, restful, and healthy Shabbat,

Rabbi Jaymee Alpert