Dear Bet Shalom,
In just a few hours, the Stay Home order in Minnesota becomes the Stay Safe order and our state will start to reopen. We urge you to take caution and stay safe. There are so many opinions about how to behave. Some of those opinions are scientific and based in real medical fact, and others are not. And of course what the doctors and scientists know grows and evolves each day. So please stay informed and be careful. Wear a mask when you are around others and maintain proper physical distancing. Stay At Home is ending, but the danger of the virus continues.
There is a story in the Talmud about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi who was a rabbinic sage with a temper. He once was sentenced to death by Rome for angrily speaking out against them and he was forced to hide in a cave sustaining himself, in isolation, from the fruit of a carob tree and a water spring. After 12 years, he emerged from hiding, but his anger raged when he saw how the world had changed. As the story goes, God sent him back into the cave for another year in order to calm down and reflect. And he was transformed. When he finally re-emerged, the first person he saw was preparing for Shabbat and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi was content. Perhaps in that final year of isolation, he focused on what was most important to him and he came out looking to find that in the world.
Many of us will come out of our caves nervous, happy, stressed out, anxious, hopeful, judgemental of behavior we see in others, angry, motivated and the list goes on. The reality is that most of us will experience a great range of internal responses. Our hope and prayer is that we all come back into the world a bit more focused on what is important, albeit that won’t be the same for everyone. What is the same for everyone is that each of us is going through this pandemic at the same time. As a member of the Bet Shalom staff reflected last week, we aren’t all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm. Our range of experiences is vast, but the Covid-19 Pandemic, no matter how long it lasts, is our shared story and we will be a stronger community when we get to the other side of it.
Since we ceased in-person gatherings at Bet Shalom in March, our highest priority has been to reopen the Bet Shalom Yeladim Child Care Center when we knew we could do so safely. As of last Monday, we are now providing care for children in our community whose parents are healthcare professionals or essential workers, and others who are working from home or are being called back into the workplace. We are proud that we can contribute to society in this early phase of reopening and we are doing so thoughtfully and carefully.
Almost everything else we do as a community has moved somewhat seamlessly into virtual space. It isn’t perfect, but we now know we can “gather” for Shabbat and holiday services, funerals, baby naming ceremonies, B’nai Mitzvah, Confirmation, Religious School and Adult Education even when we cannot physically come together. Until we are certain we can provide a safe gathering space for everyone who calls Bet Shalom their synagogue home, we will continue to congregate in virtual space for everything except the Child Care Center.
There is so much which we can look forward to with optimism. And we optimistically look forward to the day when we can come back to our beautiful synagogue home. In the meantime, we continue, as a community, to be Bet Shalom. We are here for you, as you are here for each other as well.
We hope to see you this coming Saturday night at 6:00 pm for our Bet Shalom Celebration.
Rabbi David Locketz
Rabbi Jill Crimmings
Steve Barberio, Executive Director
Phil Ecker, President