As area Jews are celebrating the eight nights of Chanukah that began at sundown on Thurs., Dec. 10, the members of Temple Beth Shalom (TBS) in Florida, NY are finding new ways to meet the timeless need for community in the face of a growing medical crisis.
“We are a people that values community,” says TBS’s Rabbi Rebecca Shinder. “Some of our prayers require a group to gather in order to insure fellowship, comradery, and support, especially during this time of pandemic. We also require that we preserve life. This is why we gather and see one another through what we refer to as open stained glass Zoom windows. The Book of Genesis tells us that Eve was created because, as God observed, ‘It is not good that man be alone.’ Our temple family gathers so that no one is alone.”
Beginning in the fall, a cadre of masked members delivered brightly bagged greetings throughout Orange County to members and others who have joined the community for services. The bottles of wine, jars of honey, Shabbat candles and symbolic distant hugs carried the wishes for a sweet New Year and a swift conclusion to the mandatory separation.
The delivery team brought a booklet of prayers and readings, Chanukah candles, potato latke (pancake) mix, a dreidel to play the traditional Chanukah game, even a package of donuts to remember the foods fried in oil – a reminder of the Chanukah miracle story that has been shared for millennia, as well as chocolate “gelt” (coins to wager during a game of dreidel).
While Jewish celebrations may look different this year, Temple Beth Shalom continues its traditions nonetheless. Shabbat Dinners (consumed in one’s own home but shared on the screen), Havdalah Hangouts, Family Education, Shabbat services and Religious School are all held via Zoom.
To learn more, visit at https://www.tbsny.org/.
Rabbi Rebecca Shinder conducts the Yom Kippur morning service via Zoom.
Alyson Levin & her family celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on their front lawn for drive-by festivities.