It is a joy to write a note to you as your new (interim and part-time) rabbi. If I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, I hope you will come to services soon or to stop by to meet me in person. As I have shared, I will be coming to Des Moines periodically…sometimes for a weekend, sometimes longer. Whenever I am in town and you wish to meet, I would very much welcome that opportunity. When I am not in town, I will hold virtual “office hours” via Zoom on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays if you want to talk about something or just say hello.
My commitment is to be there for you. If a moment of need arises – an illness, a crisis/concern, a birth, a wedding, a death – please call me immediately. If I can, I will be there with you…to guide you, you comfort you, to celebrate with you. To make sure you can always reach me, here is my contact information. Please hold on to it.
As you see, there are many ways to connect with me. Choose the way that works best for you. The last line is the link to my calendar. Just go there, find a date and time that works for you (that is available) and it will put the appointment on my calendar. It will always set it up as a Zoom meeting. IF I am in town (see schedule elsewhere in the Bulletin) and IF you want to meet in person, just say so in the comment area. And we will meet at the synagogue in my office instead of online. Or, if you have mobility challenges and would prefer for me to visit you in your home, I would be happy to do so. Please just add that information.
If you have an emergency need and I am not scheduled to be in town, please call me AND call our Executive Director, David Muenchrath. We will work together to help in whatever ways we can. And as I said, when I am in town, I would love to have coffee, lunch, dinner, or just a chance to meet. To schedule those opportunities, send me an email directly or go to the calendar URL as mentioned above.
In a few short weeks, we will welcome a new Jewish year, as we observe Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot…and conclude with Simchat Torah.
I am delighted to share with you that a colleague and dear friend of mine, Cantor Elias Roochvarg, will be joining us for the High Holidays. I know that his voice and spirit will lend an added layer of meaning to our celebrations. He will be joined by a professional quartet, as well as by many of our “tefillah team” members, as well as congregant volunteers who will all be a part of this year’s observances.
A year ago, we imagined that THIS new year would be one of great celebration after months of separation, lockdowns, limitations, and far too many deaths and illnesses due to COVID-19. We imagined that we would be back together, hugging one another, feeling one another’s presence as our voices were raised together unfettered in prayer and song during these important holiday observances.
Sadly, we are not there yet. As I write this message, the Delta variant is causing a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. We are painfully aware of these changes to our communal health status and are monitoring the situation daily. In addition, we are speaking regularly with leadership from both the Federation and Tifereth Israel, sharing our insights and concerns so that the entire community can learn and respond collectively as best we can to this COVID pandemic.
We have a number of plans in place for High Holidays to minimize risk: physical distancing with spaced-out seating over three locations (sanctuary, social hall, and an outside tent which we have purchased); a requirement for everyone to wear masks that cover both one’s mouth and nose; some changes to our typical High Holiday schedule in order to provide better opportunities for safe engagement; and continued streaming of all our services so that those who are not able/ready to be back in-person will still be able to participate. All this information will be sent out in greater detail over the next few weeks.
Even as we share these plans, we recognize that we do not truly know what the health situation will look like at the beginning of September. We are prepared to pivot and change at the last minute, if it is necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy. This is why we have inaugurated a new text system to communicate with you. We do need your cell phone numbers if we don’t already in order to share important last-minute information. Please contact the office and make sure we have the right numbers to text.
All that said, I am looking forward to spending High Holidays with you. I hope my messages will resonate with you as – together – we step forward into a year of change and possibility. Together, we will learn. Together, we will grow. Together, we will move into a future filled with health, healing, and hope.
Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff