Finding Unique Ways to Gather

Wow, we are officially here. We have reached the High Holiday season. I am so honored to have had the opportunity to join this new community in prayer for Rosh Hashanah over the past weekend. While services did not look quite like they have in the past, they were still beautiful and meaningful. We gathered as a community in a new way, and that in itself is incredibly special.

I want to share with you a Facebook group that a friend of mine recently told me about called View From My Window. Take a look, it is incredible. As I am scrolling, I am seeing stunning images from Italy, Canada, Peru, Australia, even Israel. Beautiful scenes from all over the world, all of the views from people’s windows. These posts have helped me find solace in knowing that all of us around the world are truly in this together.

Many of the prayers that we say in our Jewish tradition require that we gather a minyan (at least 10 Jewish adults). This is not to say that we cannot pray alone or in smaller groups, but rather there are certain public prayers that require a minyan to be present. This is yet another beautiful reminder from our tradition that humans are not meant to be alone. We need community to surround us and to support us both in times of joy and sadness. And yet, here we are in a very uncertain time, just when we need one another the most, being told that we must distance ourselves from our friends and even our loved ones for the safety of the community.

Over the past several months, I keep getting this feeling that time should just be frozen. There are so many things that are on pause. Yet, I continually am finding inspiration and comfort in the fact that we really are still continuing on. We are joining together via Zoom for prayer and for virtual happy hours with friends. My cousin even got married recently in a chicken coop in Michigan via Facebook live! We are marking lifecycle events, both happy and sad. We are choosing to take the time to reach out and to be here for one another. It is times like this that I am reminded how grateful I am to have this community and each of the communities of which I am a part. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the President of the Union for Reform Judaism says, “Strong communities are sacred communities, and sacred communities are those in which people care for one another.” Even though I am relatively new to this community, it is incredibly clear that Emanuel Congregation is, in fact, a sacred community.

As a sacred community, it is our opportunity to find unique ways to gather, even during these difficult times. Thank you to those of you who came to ECRS’s Welcome Back Car Parade on the 13th – it was fantastic seeing each of you and your families! I cannot wait to officially kick off religious school on Tuesday, October 6 with our 3rd-7th graders and Sunday, October 18 with our entire ECRS community. (Parents - Please watch your inboxes in the coming weeks for important details and Zoom links.) In the meantime, I hope that you are able to find ways to make old traditions live on, or even to create some special new holiday traditions with each of the communities of which you are a part.

Shanah Tovah!

-Mandy

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Emanuel Congregation  5959 N. Sheridan Road Chicago, IL 60660

(T) 773.561.5173 (F) 773.561.5420  info@emanuelcong.org

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