COVID-19 Update March 17

March 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

In an attempt to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in our community, we are all grappling with the many government and self-imposed social-distancing restrictions that dramatically impact our daily lives.

The Village Temple, first and foremost is a sacred community, committed to Jewish values that have sustained our people through the millennia, including times of grave uncertainty. Those same values must guide our congregation now.

Pikuach Nefesh-Saving a life. There is no higher Jewish mitzvah than saving a life, as the commandments are to live by. Therefore, like synagogues across the globe, we have closed our doors for almost all temple programs and services. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we must do our part to ensure the health and safety of our temple family and all those who find community in our congregation. Saving a life also implies that we do our part to assist those whose lives are put at greater risk during this crisis because of food insecurity. Therefore, our Shabbat Soup Kitchen will continue to feed the hungry via a modified program. The core Soup Kitchen team has generously agreed to make bagged lunches for our guests, that will be distributed at the door by NY Cares. We have checked with the team captain, Gabrielle Machinist to see how our members can assist in providing this mitzvah.  If you are able to donate loaves of sliced bread, cookies or fruit (clementines or apples) please drop them off at The Village Temple on Saturday, between 9 – 9:30.

L’shinantam L’vanecha-you shall teach them to your children. Jewish education is woven into the fabric of Jewish living. Our Director of Education, Alex Tansky and his team, have quickly adjusted to a virtual learning model for our students. The program was launched on Sunday and was received well by students and parents alike-as homes and screens were filled with voices in song and learning. In addition, Rabbi Hirsch is working on two adult learning courses including a Shabbat Morning Torah Study that will begin this Shabbat or next. Specific details will be sent via Constant Contact in the days ahead.

Lichvod Shabbat-To honor Shabbat. Rabbi Hirsch and Cantor Bach led a virtual Kabbalat Shabbat service on March 13 via Zoom. In their homes, participants prayed and sang, and even wished each other Shabbat Shalom on the Zoom message board. Virtual Shabbat services will continue until further notice. Each Shabbat we sing the V’shamru celebrating Israel’s guarding the Shabbat throughout the generations. Achad Ha-Am taught, that more than Israel has kept the Shabbat, the Shabbat has kept Israel. Indeed, during this time of tumult and uncertainty, our neshamot, our souls yearn to be nourished and grounded. Carving out time for Shabbat can help anchor us in a raging sea. Please join for Kabbalat Services at 6:30 pm streaming details will follow later this week. More worship opportunities (family Havdalah and holiday celebratory moments) are in the planning stage.

U’fros Aleinu Sukkat Shalom Aleinu v’al Kol ha-olam. May God spread a tabernacle of peace, wholeness and healing, on us and all the world. Amen.

Fred Basch            Rabbi Deborah A. Hirsch                Sarah King