A High Holy Day Greeting to Those Online

L’Shanah Tovah! For those who will be online, in particular, we invite you to consider how you will experience the High Holy Days. We will not be daunted by any physical separation. To the contrary, we want to make sure we remain connected to one another. We warmly embrace everyone as we find our way to engage in these Days of Awe.

Levi Yitzchak, a Hasidic master of the 18th century commented on the instruction to Moses to build the mishkan, the sanctuary for the Israelites, “exactly as I tell you.” He lifted up the discrepancy that each time the Israelites built a sanctuary, first in the wilderness, then by King Solomon, and then again hundreds of years later by Herod, it was different. How could it have been built exactly as God commanded, he asked and yet be unlike the previous ones?

The answer is you!

When God instructed the Israelites to build a sacred place so that God could dwell among them, it was to ensure that each person has the ability to bring the sacred into their midst. Each of us has the opportunity and obligation to build a sanctuary wherever we dwell. By bringing effort and intention, it becomes a sacred endeavor.

So, let’s be here to celebrate the new year with sweetness of one another’s presence, onsite and online. Let us transform the screen in front of us to an open door to engage, participate, reflect, respond, meditate, soul search, and be present. Keep the door open with the video on so we can see one another’s faces. When you turn your video off, our side of the metaphorical door is blocked from view because you disappear from the screen. On zoom, the gallery view invites us to take in the presence of each other.

Also, here are also some suggestions from your rabbis and cantor of Temple Israel of Boston to enhance your experience online:

  • Decide where you will be. We don’t recommend the dinner table as you eat. Give yourself the chance to pay attention to what is in front of you.
  • Make some change in that space. Add a cloth or other items that acts as a reminder of its special place at this time.
  • Make a change to yourself. Dress for the holiday in a way that works for you and lifts up the moment.
  • Gather your candles and Kiddush cup so we can offer the blessings together and you will have the candles glowing by you and the sweet taste of wine or juice on your lips as you experience the holiday.
  • Plan to turn off notifications on your devices so you’re not getting pinged with texts and emails and social media while in the services.
  • Make sure pets have what they need. And children, too.
  • Set an intention about your presence. Move from the passive to the active. Consider how you can transform the experience by turning from just watching to reflecting, praying, singing, offering, and engaging.
  • Before you do turn to or turn on whatever technology you are using, take a deep breath and remind yourself that what is in front of you is now part of the experience of praying, reflecting, and engaging in the holidays. See it as an opening like a window or door that allows the connection between you, the community, prayer, and the sacred to occur.
  • Offer blessing to help you focus: Blessed are You and blessed are we, that we have been kept alive, sustained, and brought together to share in these days of awe, onsite and online.

L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah!

Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Cantor Alicia Stillman, Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, Rabbi Dan Slipakoff, Rabbi Andrew Oberstein as well as Rabbi Ronne Friedman, Rabbi Bernard Mehlman, and Cantor Roy Einhorn