The "Back to Shul" Challenge
Strange Times, Strange Challenges, Strange Opportunities
The times we live in are changing rapidly and dramatically.
For many of us, here in Israel, the last year has been an emotional and social roller coaster. Three long quarantine periods, combined with two general elections, have generated instability in all areas of life.
Family and community members were forced to keep away from each other and we witnessed almost one million Israeli workers on leave without pay or permanently unemployed.
The long term effect of all this is yet unknown.
In our community, we have made special efforts to keep the candle burning through online activities such as a Zoom Havdala service each week accompanied by a member's talk on a topic of his choosing. The weekend minyan numbers were very low due to the harsh restrictions on meetings and gatherings.
At the end of the third quarantine I began my position as the rabbi of Magen Avraham. On my whiteboard at the office I wrote "The Target: Renewal and Growth". Coming from programming, management and a social activism background, it was clear to me that I needed to clarify and define what my main goal would be.
Though most of our congregants have been vaccinated, and even though new regulations allow us to renew prayer services, getting "Back to Shul" isn't so obvious psychologically and emotionally. I know that "Back to Shul" is also a challenge for communities in countries that are still struggling with Covid and its restrictions. We're not over these challenges, but we are in the process of tackling them.
I wish all our overseas friends and family a fast return to normalcy accompanied by renewal, growth and good health.
Rabbi Yosef Baruch Fromer