May 2020

Dear Friends,

From this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor, we learn: אלה מועדי יי Eileh mo’adei Adonai – “These are Adonai’s appointed seasons.” Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:1  These appointed seasons – our Jewish festivals – these calendric fixed times and occasions, in their regularity, predictability, reliability, and certainty, are comforting, anchoring, and reassuring.  

But what happens when injected into this certainty comes sudden and severe uncertainty, unsettling havoc? We begin to feel unmoored, undirected, unnerved. This is such a time, and in this context I would offer two observations. It is not only okay to feel stress, to have feelings of anxiety – it is in fact very normal when things are so abnormal! I urge you to try not to add to your stress by thinking you’re the only one who feels like this; I beseech you not to exacerbate these feelings by having the unrealistic and counterproductive goal of absolutely eliminating any and all such feelings. 

The question isn’t whether we have any such feelings at all, but rather how we deal with them. Think about what you do – and can do better – to provide for yourself (and for others if you can) encouragement, meaningful and helpful coping mechanisms, and positive outlooks and attitudes. Focus on achieving the attainable, helpful, and noble goal of brightening the days, illuminating the soul, and seeing the sacred light in your life. 

I hope that what we are offering at ACI during these trying times – the ‘livestream’ Shabbat and chagim services, Kiddush ‘gatherings,’ and ‘learn and havdalah’ sessions I am leading; the ‘Zoomed’ Maskit classes by our wonderful Maskit teachers; and our online/ virtual/ phone communications with congregants coordinated by Ayelet Pearl and implemented by our cadre of caring and warm-hearted members – are all of help and comfort in providing you some camaraderie, strength, faith, grounding, and optimism.  

If you want or need, please know that I welcome your communications – feel free to write or call me.  

There is no need to carry this alone, we are all in this together. Avail yourselves of those who want to help, avail yourselves of all we are offering. We will get through this well and with great strength.  

The מועדי יי – Adonai’s appointed seasons – are always there: predictable, reliable, and certain. Be comforted, anchored, and reassured. 

Bivracha,

Rabbi Pearl