The other day, I had a most interesting conversation with a friend and fellow congregant.  We reflected on the past few years of COVID and found ourselves discussing the days of lockdown, severe social distancing and our mental health as we reemerge into society.  During the worst days of COVID—and there were so many—we went into survival mode.  We simply had to get through each day, and then the next, with the hope that it would eventually end and we could go back to some semblance of a life we had once known.  Now that the stringent rules have lifted, we have (more or less) come out of seclusion.  We are discovering that the world has changed, and so have we. We have had to rediscover what it means to rejoin society with civility.  Many of the niceties of the “before times” have been left behind.  Think about driving on University Avenue or Downtown during rush hour.  No more polite hand waves while changing lanes.  Forget to signal and beware the horn.  Drivers are frustrated and easily roused; impatient and intolerant of one another.  How do we slow down, relax and return to each other with kindness, patience and tolerance?

Not only have we, the congregants of Temple B’nai Jeshurun, had to live with the stressors and complexities of COVID, but we have also experienced major changes as our community transitioned from Rabbi David Kaufman, to our interim year with Rabbi Art Nemitoff and finally, to our new, settled rabbi, Rabbi Neal Schuster.  That’s a tremendous amount of change in a short period of time.  We, the board, asked all of you (who were simply trying to survive each day) to please be patient, kind and open-minded through this process—and you were.  And the support was incredible and we are grateful.  As we continue to settle into all that is new, we ask that you continue to possess and practice these behaviors and strengths.

We are quickly approaching Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with Rabbi Neal leading our High Holy Days for the first time.  While some of the music and parts of services may be new or different, most should feel familiar and comfortable to you, including the voices of our talented musicians who have enriched our services for many years.  We have also been fortunate to welcome many new congregants to our Temple this year.  Some of the faces you see may be brand new. Please welcome our new members (and our long standing members) with warmth and audacious hospitality.  As we continue to run virtual services and in-person services, and ask our staff to wear multiple hats, you may see board members and volunteers taking on new roles around the Temple, perhaps looking in all the wrong places for a linen napkin or duct tape.  Everything we are experiencing together is novel.  The world has changed, and so have we.  Change can be difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s good to take a beat, a breath, or a moment to meditate, and then draw upon those values of kindness, patience, and open-mindedness.

We have achieved many incredible goals in the last few years.  We have so much to be proud of.  We have exciting work ahead, as we continue to shape and reshape the promising and vibrant future of Temple B’nai Jeshurun. Together, let’s make the coming year, 5783, a year of growth, meaning, and blessing.


L’Shana Tova

Dana Dickson