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18 Tammuz 5780/ July 10, 2020

07/10/2020 11:24:41 AM

Jul10

 Dear Friends,
 
Last week my son Zak came to visit me. It was such a joy to share with him my new life here in Prescott. We hiked, kayaked, toured the town and just had a fabulous time together. One of the things we discussed with each other was the fact that he, as a Psycho Therapist and I as a Rabbi, neither of us have felt any dip at all in our work since Covid-19 hit.

As people working in the helping fields, the degree of increased loneliness due to this isolation is everywhere. We are both trying to do our best to help those who are suffering as well as to keep some form of normalcy for people to hold on to. And even though I am trying everything I can to keep us spiritually engaged, loneliness is at epidemic proportions.

For so many loneliness is a true DIS EASE, disease. It is not a sickness as much as a discomfort. And though on the most honest level we are ALL truly alone existentially, we do not often know how to be alone and be alright with it.

Rabbi Jonathon Saks writes that at times of loneliness, he finds great solace in the psalms. They are such a deep outpouring of soulful emotion towards God’s ear. They tell us that we are not alone in feeling alone. 

Moses, Rachel, Sarah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Miriam, Jonah,  Devorah, Leah and King David were among the greatest spiritual leaders who ever lived. We get a chance to see in the Psalms the psychological realism of Torah, as these poems are tears of all sorts put to words.
 
We get a glimpse into their souls' yearnings, fears, and outpourings, while they were in their most lonely states.
 
And though they, our heroes, were outstanding individuals, they were still just human, not superhuman. They were just like you and me.

Judaism consistently tries to avoid one of the greatest temptations of religion: which has been to blur the boundary between heaven and earth, oftentimes turning heroes into gods.
 
Instead of making our hero’s into gods, we have allowed them their humanity. Instead of making them into gods, we recorded their hearts suffering, their questioning, their loneliness. We captured in the words of the psalms their wounded hunger and we honored their strength through a respect for their relentless vulnerability.

Moses was trying to turn a generation forged in slavery into a free and responsible people. Elijah was one of the first Prophets to criticize kings. Jeremiah had to tell the people what they did not want to hear. Jonah had to face the fact that Divine forgiveness extends even to Israel’s enemies and can overturn prophecies of doom. David had to wrestle with political, military and spiritual challenges as well as an unruly personal life. Devorah the prophet had to take a back seat despite her brilliance because she was a woman.

By telling us of their strife of the spirit, the Torah is honoring their vulnerability as a strange gift for in their isolation, loneliness, and deep despair, these figures cried out to God “from the depths,” and God answered them.

No, God wasn’t able to make their lives easier, but God did help them feel that they were not alone.

Their very loneliness brought them into an unparalleled closeness to God. Perhaps this is the very point of suffering all together!
 
They discovered the deep spirituality of solitude.
These words are being written while most of the world is still under the dark cloud of Covid-19. People are unable to gather. These are unprecedented times.

But there are uses of adversity and consolation in loneliness. When we feel alone, we have the choice to face that fear and move beyond it, to a new place, a place where Gods' voice can more easily be heard.

We can move to a place where our autopilot lives, don’t obscure the call of God through the windows of the soul.

It is precisely this loneliness that allows us to develop a deeper relationship with God. In that quiet, God is easier to find. In the silence of the soul we can feel ourselves embraced.

Isolation contains, within it, spiritual possibilities.

Rabbi Sacks writes we can use it to deepen our spirituality. We can read the book of Psalms, re-engaging with some of the greatest religious poetry the world has ever known. We can pray more deeply from the heart.

Read, dream, search, dive deep, soar higher.

It is when we feel most alone that we discover that we are not really alone at all, “for God, You are with me.”

What a miracle discovery that can be?


                                   

 

Thank you to the entire crew, Jim Rubin, Al Steinberg, Jay Shechter, Arthur Amdurer, Jeff Plotkin and Steve Weiss who cleared out the Schoolroom to make way for the ONE ROOM SHUL HOUSE.

Wow, it is a clean slate now and we are going to use broad strokes to make it into a beautiful safe, loving and spiritual space for soulful learning. Thank you all for helping to make this vision of our new school a reality. The color for the walls has been chosen and soon the paint will go up. This is truly very exciting.

Jessica and I are meeting regularly to put our High Holiday services together. As you know, we are moving forward with the intention of zooming the services. It was really the only decision when all was said and done so we are going to make the very most of it and we are planning to zoom the most spiritually nourishing services possible. We are working out the logistics as we speak on how to have group participation. It is tricky but we are going to give it our best shot.

Please plan to join us in our virtual sanctuary for High Holidays 5781. Our members will automatically receive invitations to the Zoom sanctuary and we also hope to have many guests join us as well. If you are not a member of TBS please contact Jessica in the office to make arrangements to join us.

Please enjoy Shira’s leadership this Shabbat as I will be out of town. I am so grateful to have her help when I am unavailable.

             

 

I want to share with you one of my newest ideas for our Friday evening service. I have decided to choose a congregant every Shabbat who is celebrating, commemorating, starting or finishing an important endeavor, or just remembering a milestone in their lives. This way we can highlight one of you when we are all together and the guest will be able to share some thoughts with the congregation.

On Friday the 17th we will begin with honoring the Yahrzeit of Wally Gilbert, and Leah will speak for a bit from the heart about him. The following Friday on the 24th, we will honor the retirement of Arlene Brownie, who has dedicated a lifetime to her work and the service of others. We will hear from Arlene and celebrate her retirement together with our TBS family.

So, if you have a meaningful date, or event that you would like to share with us all, please let me know. I feel it is important for us to get as entwined in each other’s lives as possible now. It is one small way of staving off a bit of that loneliness that we are all experiencing.

                                 

 

I will be heading to Dewey next week to visit two of our beloved families for a rabbi Drive-By, please let me know if you are in need of a visit.

What an honor and a joy to be able to bestow the Hebrew names to the beautiful grandchildren, of Donna and Bob Olesh. Little Ezra and Isabel we’re named, Ezra Yaakov and his twin sister, Elishevah Rachel! Mom, Mara and dad, Nathan and big brother Owen, all made up such a beautiful family! May these precious children find inspiration in their ancient names. JOY! 

 

For those of you who attended services last Shabbat, you had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Robyn Chase who is a congregant and the first Doctor in Prescott to contract Covid. She spoke last week and shared her experience with the virus. This email arrived yesterday and I am happy to share it with all of you. 

Dearest Rabbi Julie.....
     I wanted to send you this email so you could kindly distribute it to the congregation if you feel appropriate. I want to 1st and foremost thank everyone so greatly for prayers and support. I have been discharged from the hospital being treated for COVID-19 which was obtained through an occupational exposure. I want every one to know, I am doing well.... meaning that my oxygen saturations are maintaining around 97%.
     Still at rest, my heart rate is about 97, which is too high. When I went to the hospital after Zoom services on Friday night my heart rate was 160 and I was feeling palpitations. While I was in the hospital I received 4 doses of remdisavir. I elected to give up the 5th dose to someone who needed it more than me as there were sicker people in the hospital.
     However this is a terrible disease to have and mine is actually classified as, "MILD!" My only underlying health issue is childhood asthma. I Would like to let everyone know how I am doing. I am using my nebulizer cumulatively for about 4 hours per day. My Pulmonologist has me on high dose steroids. Also vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc and Lovenox, a potent blood thinner to prevent stroke and clots.
     When I awaken in the morning it is very frightening as I have to consciously fill my lungs with air. I still get very short of breath with speaking. I am able to take care of things though like showering and heating food up in the microwave. My husband and children come around and drop necessities off at the front door. I also have my kitty cat with me Honeyboy for company. He is amazing!
     So many folks have asked if there's anything they could do. I must admit one thing I am craving for Friday night is some Challah and matzo ball soup, just a single serving. If anyone has an extra bit from your table, that would just warm my heart. I have candles and I certainly don't need any wine. I have juice which will suffice.
     Otherwise I will remain at my mother's house, she is gone for the summer. I am in a beautiful place on Mount Vernon with books, plants and many comforts. I will stay here through recovery and proof that I am no longer shedding the virus. My husband and three kids have tested negative.
     I also want to extend to the congregation appreciation for their diligent efforts as they go through this time in public. Even though you are wearing a mask please also social distance other than from your family members. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds getting in all the crevices and under the nails, up to the wrists. When we keep each other safe we will beat this.

With love,
Robyn

May you find God’s presence a little closer to your soul in the quiet isolation of life these days and may you take the time to discover that still, small voice within that IS God calling to you. And in a strange way, be thankful for this opportunity to cultivate a relationship with the mystery of life. It can only make you brighter, deeper, and more beautifully engaged in the gift of your life!

May this Shabbat comfort and hold you in all that is divine and blessed.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Julie

 

Fri, August 14 2020 24 Av 5780