Thursday, March 11, 2021

My e-mail to our congregation on the anniversary of the closing of our synagogue building due to COVID-19 :(


  • This is for those of you with young kids or grandkids--or for those of you who are "kids at heart" :) :
These days, we might all need to be cheered up by a children's show.  See below.


The world of Jewish "spiritual" music was struck in its soul by the death, just days ago, of poet, rabbinical student, and frequent music collaborator Stacey Zisook Robinson, who succumbed to COVID-19 at the age of only 59 after a years-long progressively-disabling health condition.  Said Chava Mirel (on Facebook), "I don’t know what to say so I’ll tell this story. Back in April 2017 my new poet friend
Stacey Zisook Robinson
sent me this message:
“wanna write a barchu? the one I hear building and blending and rising in my head?”
She sent me her exquisite poem (with the caveat “I have some words, they may not be perfect, but they are a start”) and it is now my most “popular” song.
She offered me many opportunities to compose in collaboration with her. I wish I had taken more of them. I wish she was still here.
Your memory is a blessing to all of us Stacey. 💔 "

Here's a link to that Barchu, "Come," with lyrics by Stacey Zisook Robinson and music by Chava Mirel:
Today is March 10, 2021.  It was almost exactly a year ago, on March 13, 2020, that the JCJH closed its doors to religious services.  We were far from alone in closing our doors.  A year of devastation has followed, with millions dead worldwide: elders dying alone in droves in assisted living facilities and nursing homes and hospitals and at home; parents and grandparents separated from their children and grandchildren on pain of death; millions out of work or forced to work from home (some sitting on their beds for entire workdays with laptop computers on their laps because they have no room to work elsewhere) or with their hard-earned businesses, restaurants, theaters, etc., shuttered, some permanently; young kids "bouncing off the walls" for lack of exercise and in-person playmates; children forced to leave their schools and separated from their friends, trying to keep up both academically and socially by computer; adults overwhelmed by the necessity of working, parenting, and serving as "teaching assistants" all at the same full-time pace and in the same place; teens and young adults losing an entire year of their social lives (and now more) at what may be one of the most important times of their social lives; newly-minted college graduates going straight from Zoom classes into uncertain futures in which the careers that they had carefully planned and studied for might never happen; holidays and other celebrations, and, for many folks, religious services, reconfigured, as Jewish singer/songwriter Beth Hamon put it, to be "crammed into a two-dimensional rectangle the size of a cereal box;" a year of "permanent Purim" in which we wear masks every day; a year of social distancing in which we literally avoid other people like the plague because of the plague; a year of constant hand-washing and stocking up on hand-sanitizer, disinfectants, and liquid hand soap; a year that saw the birth of the "Zoom funeral" and the "Zoom shiva" and the death of the handshake.

I have run out of words.  What more can I say?  I can only pray for the speedy vaccination of everyone on earth, and hope that medical researchers--bless them--can keep up with this quickly-mutating plague.  My heart goes out to all the exhausted health-care providers and to all of those who provide essential services that cannot be provided online.  May we all live--literally--to see a better day.


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