The end of September and beginning of October 2019 was the last time our communities have gathered together in the numbers we’ve been used to for years.
We all recall Rosh Hashana 2020 and the disappointment of 2021 where many of us felt unable to return to our pre-pandemic behaviors. We have arrived at the 2022 High Holidays and as such many of us are feeling safer, with the vaccines working in our bodies, and for a much greater percentage of our population, combined with less severe symptoms for so many around us from COVID. This year, we’re so excited to do what Jews are meant to do – gather. We all miss the days of togetherness.
Judaism is a religion of togetherness. One of my favorite verses from the Torah is Exodus 25:8, “And let them make me a sanctuary/holy place, and I will dwell in them.”
The singular word for the sanctuary disagrees with the plural of the word for within them. The action of a community working together for something outside of themselves, … the act of the community coming together and celebrating, … the act of being together brings God into the world. Now that we’re pulling closer together, we can now return to our collective “bringing God into the world.”
Over the time period of COVID we have each found new ways to feel a sense of “togetherness.” I think it’s critical that we each continue to utilize those avenues to connect.
At the same time, it’s also crucial to return to our old ways. We need to gather to pray. We need to gather to learn. We need to gather to connect. We need to gather to feel each other and the Divine.
Josh Hearshen is the rabbi at Congregation Or VeShalom.