April 19, 2024 /

A Place of Purpose – December 2021

A few of my colleagues and I, as the secular year comes to an end, always come together to reflect on the year that is about to end. In truth, we probably should be doing this before Rosh Hashanah, however how many rabbis have time to just chit chat before the High Holy Days?

When we come together, we discuss what our lives have been like from the last time we came together until now. We talk about how our congregations are doing. We talk about our challenges and our accomplishments. We are a rabbinic support group for one another, helping one another with everything from pastoral needs to tech support and what platform is the best for lectures or meetings. When reflecting on 2021, one of us remarked, “I can’t believe that really happened, what do you think will happen in 2022?” One of us responded, “It’s better not to ask that question.”

A phrase that I have been hearing quite frequently this past year is that time seems to have no relative grounding in a pandemic. Did that event happen last week or two months ago? It’s so hard to tell. To give myself some grounding before writing this article I went back and looked at what I wrote last December. Last year I spoke about pandemic fatigue and the fact that we would have to do are Chanukah candle lighting completely virtually. When recalling that service it feels like it was a lot longer than only 12 months ago. However, look how far we’ve come since then. Last year at this time everything was still completely virtual, and it had no end in sight. Now we’ve been able to open more. We have hybrid classes and hybrid lectures people joining us from all over the world and in person. This year we’re going to light the Chanukah candles altogether both in person and at home.

This past year despite the social ills, despite the medical setbacks of a pandemic, despite all the technological challenges that comes with going hybrid, our community has thrived. It did so because we needed a place to find meaning in all of the challenges we were wrestling with. I have no idea what lies ahead for us in the future. 2022 is a time of mystery. Perhaps next year I’ll look back at this article and think, “Oh Philip, you have no idea what’s about to happen.” Regardless of what does occur I do know this, Anshe Emeth will continue to be here and continue to be a place of purpose where we support one another in all moments of our lives. This will continue to be a place of growth, a place of innovation, a place of resilience for those who need it, in the community that comes together to help build a better world.