May 27, 2024 /

Embracing The Festival of Lights – December 2020

I have heard the phrase “Pandemic Fatigue” used many times over the last few weeks. People are ready for this pandemic to be over and want everything to go back to normal. The only problem with that is that COVID-19 is not prepared to depart us just yet, but is more than ready to take advantage of our vulnerabilities when we let our guard down.

We have significantly struggled with how we run our Temple program as normally as we can, yet acknowledge that we are dealing with a deadly virus, and we want to keep everyone safe. Ever since last Spring, we have looked at each event and asked, “How can we still do this safely?” Sometimes we came up with answers that enabled us to meet face-to-face. For example, we were able to house our Religious School at Eagles Landing Day Camp thanks to the tremendous generosity of Ruth Ann Weiss and Barry Wasserman. They own and operate the camp and are new members of our AEMT Family. Sometimes, the answer meant having to do things online, as was the case with our High Holy Day Services. When we have had to go online, we are continually trying new technologies and methods for making the experience as impactful as possible.

As we were thinking about Chanukah, we wrestled extensively with how to do our communal menorah lighting. In years past, we have concluded our Shabbat worship and have gathered in Reitman Hall (200 plus people packed into the Hall) all-around a few tables where we light each candle and slowly, wick by wick, bring a darkened room into a radiant glow. How desperately I wish we could do it again this year, especially because each light of the menorah represents us overcoming tremendous odds and being able to preserve in troubling times and bring light into a dark world. Each candle is a ray of hope, a hope we could use right now.

But there is still a way for us to hold our communal lighting because we still need that light in our lives. Join us on Friday, December 11th for our Chanukah services, and then join us at the virtual oneg where I will be leading us in a community menorah lighting on Zoom. Set your device up in front of your menorah, and we will all light it together and sing songs as best we can over Zoom. Even though we will all be in our own spaces, we will still embrace the light of Chanukah together.

Rabbi Philip Bazeley