Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Too soon :(

There aren't many advantages to being a super-small synagogue--it's a great way to go broke--but at least it's easy to contact all the "regulars" when there are only about 18 of them.

So when Governor Cuomo authorized gatherings of not more than 10 people, the president got on the phone.

A number of our congregants--mostly those over 80--refused to come to Shabbat (Sabbath) morning services because they didn't feel safe.

They were the smart ones.

Those who managed to make the cut--we had a few too many volunteers, so some had to be asked to stay home--followed all the rules, which were established with considerable guidance from the Orthodox Union that was forwarded by a synagogue member.

We were instructed to pray from the earliest blessings--Birkot HaTorah through P'sukei D'Zimrah-- at home.

Everyone wore a facemask.  And we were socially-distanced up to here--or rather, out to there--sitting in assigned seats that were two well-spaced rows apart, and sitting at opposite ends of the rows.

No one except the cantor was allowed on the bima (prayer platform).

The service was shortened as much as possible.   We started at the Shochen Ad prayer and did a heicha k'dushah for both Shacharit (Morning) and Musaf ("Additional") services. 

My husband, who's the acting rabbi, overruled the president and insisted on having only a Triennial-Cycle Torah reading for the first time in our synagogue's history, not only to shorten the service, but also to spare the cantor--it's no picnic leading an hour-and-a-half service through a facemask.  Everyone took their aliyot from their seats, and, when it came time for the Mi Sheh-berach prayer for the sick, we recited their names to ourselves, silently.  And yours truly read less than half of the haftarah.  My husband gave what was probably his shortest-ever d'var Torah (sermon, more or less), mostly to give the cantor a chance to sit down for a few minutes.

We thought that service went pretty well.

Until we got home, where we were greeted by a very upset son.

He pointed out that he hadn't known that we were going to shul until we were practically halfway out the door.

That's not surprising--when had we ever had to tell him in advance before?

But this pandemic has changed all the rules.

Our son pointed out that, by not discussing with him our decision to go back to synagogue, we had endangered his health without his knowledge or consent.


Fortunately, the president was also having second thoughts--when my husband called him on Sunday, he readily agreed to shut the shul again, mostly on the grounds that almost all of our "regulars" are over the age of 50, and, therefore, at higher risk.  By the end of the day, he'd called almost all of them to tell them the bad news.

Heaven, and/or the Centers for Disease Control, knows when we'll open again.

Congratulate us on the 100th anniversary of the founding of our synagogue . . .  which occurred in the middle of a global pandemic.  :(



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