This year has been a particularly challenging one to prepare for the High Holy Days. I imagine many of you share this feeling. At one and the same time I am looking ahead to a time when we can gather together in person, while at the same time looking back to earlier this summer when that seemed so possible. The pandemic has altered most every aspect of our lives over the past 18 months. And, while the Hebrew month of Elul is really a time designated for spiritual seeking – for the spiritual inventory process, I have struggled, at times, to bring my heart and soul to that space this year.
In those moments when I feel a bit stuck at home and things are challenging, I have been holding onto our tradition’s understanding of home as a “mikdash me’at – a mini sanctuary.” Our challenge this year is to once again create a virtual high holiday space that replicates and celebrates the sanctuary of us together, with all the beauty and inspiration that comes from being in community. Even though it will not be the same, it will still be joyful to wish each other a Shanah Tovah and to celebrate the High Holy Days together. In fact, there are some ways in which our virtual space makes that even sweeter – with community members who might not be able to be physically present able to gather with our Coalition! As we prepare for this second virtual holiday season, I want to remind you (and remind me) of some of the things that we did last year that helped us build that sanctuary at home:
Rabban Gamliel, who was living and writing around the period of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, called us to this phrase of a Mikdash Me’at – first offered by the prophet Ezekiel several hundred years earlier. But in Rabban Gamiel’s world, where the Temple no longer existed, Judaism needed to adapt in order to survive. In the past 18 months, many of us have spent more time at home than ever before. This presented us with a unique opportunity and also real challenge. We have been working, studying, exercising, and living all in one space. As a community, we have been praying in that space as well.
Although our society is once again looking at a changing spiritual landscape, I believe that our experiences of the past year and from past generations can guide us toward meaning, community, and holiness. As we come together for Rosh Hashanah this year, I look forward to sharing this journey with you, to helping each of us find our Mikdash Me’at, and to walking the path of the Holy Days as a community.
Jen, Talyah, Kol, and I wish each of you a sweet, joyful, and healthy New Year. Kol Tuv,
Kol Tuv (Be Well),