We hope this note finds you and yours coping, resilient, and hopefully healthy. While I have sent out a version of this letter to religious school parents and faculty, Cantor Friedman and I wanted to take a moment to reach out to everyone.
We are wondering how your Passover went - and the holiday season in general. We are eager to hear about new insights, challenges, triumphs, and heartaches. If you'd like a call, please let me or Cantor Friedman know. We are making our way little by little through the directory, but we are happy to get to you sooner.
We have some updates for you, one of which won't come as a surprise. Due to the fact that Governor Pritzker has closed schools for the rest of the school year, we will not resume religious school studies at 5959 North Sheridan. We WILL however continue online studies in our virtual village. This also means everything else we do as a synagogue community will happen in similar space for the foreseeable future.
Knowing that, we are curious to know how you think things are going with our online prayer and learning experiences and how we might improve it. Cantor Friedman and I are also working on our story and bedtime programming, we'd love feedback - especially how to make it better and encourage more participation.
In addition, Cantor Friedman and I are working with our CHESED team and mental health professionals in our congregation to organize webinars on living through the COVID-19. I trust you have learned a lot so far, so this may all be more of a refresher for some. And, we'll be holding another edition of our All Psalms Considered experience, which brought insight and comfort to the initial participants. Both these experiences will be held as soon as possible.
In the meantime, Cantor Friedman includes here the top five tips she finds meaningful for coping with our challenging times. They are:
Real information lessens the anxiety. Too much information causes anxiety. Get your news from one reliable source and then TURN IT OFF.
Create a schedule for yourself. Get dressed. Brush teeth. Take a walk. Take some control back.
As a community, we are in this together. And we are working hard to keep each other safe. There are many smart, talented people who are working on finding medicines, and answers, in this pandemic.
In every challenge there is opportunity. This is a perfect time to connect with someone you haven’t connected with in a while. Schedule a virtual coffee with an old friend and catch up.
Be present. We don’t know what tomorrow holds; we never have and we never will. Getting out too far over your skis can make you feel anxious and depressed. Be here now. Beauty abounds, even in these dark times.
Finally, and most importantly, Gov. Pritzker has set up a support line for those feeling overwhelmed and overly depressed or anxious. Simply text TALK to 552020 and text with a mental health professional in our area.
I have also included some links that I find useful in rising to this moment of uncertainty. One is to the URJ, and involves a Jewish Values matrix on dealing with COVID-19. The second is more psychological in nature and is from the med school University of California at San Francisco.
A third is from Psychology Today on resilience. And the final link is from InfoAboutKids.org, which has good general information for parents including other important links to explore.
Whether you're working outside the safety of your home making a difference despite risk or you're working inside staying productive, we salute you for whatever adjustments you've had to make - redefining school life, togetherness, and other changes. Kol ha'kavod!
Stay well. Struggle on. And pay kindness forward!
Rabbi Craig Marantz
Cantor Michelle Drucker Friedman