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I guess it is fitting that I close out the year with some comments that you will read on New Year’s Day. So here goes.
We last met in the sanctuary on March 14, 2020. We sat apart from each other, and we didn’t parade with the Torah. The olim did not go up on the bimah, and the gabbaim did not go up on the bimah. We did not go downstairs for Kiddush.
The first Zoom service was March 21, and we have been doing Zoom services ever since. We celebrated Pesach with a Zoom seder, and we celebrated the High Holy Days on Zoom. The High Holy Days were attended by upwards of 90 devices; we normally get, at the peak, about 200 people in the sanctuary, but under the circumstances, the High Holy Day services were well attended. I thank the Task Force for organizing and running the High Holy Day services.
We have been averaging about 20-25 people on Shabbat on Zoom. That’s a lot of people, considering that we do not interact with each other and we are not in our sanctuary. That’s a testament to the love that we have for Ahavas Sholom and for each other. I thank all who participated in the services during 2020, and I thank you all for just showing up.
We had (or have) three classes: the Hallelujah Psalms, Hallel (ongoing), and Introduction to Judaism (ongoing). Jeff organized the Hanukkah party, which was well attended under the circumstances. The toy-donation drive (in lieu of actual toys) was successful. And Jeff stepped in to deliver the newsletter and to be the technical gabbai every week.
When we return to the sanctuary we will find a sanded floor, painted walls, and new seats, thanks to Joan, Eric, Len, and the building committee. The kitchen committee is continuing to do their work. And Eric is checking up on the building almost every day
We have continued our Face Mask Project, under the leadership of our Executive Assistant, Chris Piatkowski, whose inspiration and commitment has brought us to the “10,000 mask” threshold. These masks have been donated to community organizations in Newark and surrounding communities.
We were lightly touched by Covid-19. Few of our congregants got sick (as far as I know), fewer were hospitalized, and I think we had no deaths. Considering what we say on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (who by plague), we got away comparatively unscathed.
Who knew in March that our lives would be turned upside-down? Many months will pass until we return to our sanctuary, but we will return. The vaccines are available, and it is only a matter of time when the bulk of the population is vaccinated. Maybe we shall share our community seder together, and if not, we will find a different way to celebrate a return to normal life.