From the Rabbi’s Desk

 From the Rabbi’s Desk January 2022

Rabbi Carla Freedman

When the pandemic hit us, back in March of 2020, I had no idea how it would impact the life of Beth Israel. My first thought was that we’d have to find a way to serve our members, but I had barely even heard of a thing called Zoom.

And then, Zoom became our lifeline, as it has been to churches and synagogues all over the country…and beyond. I remember the first time I looked for music on YouTube, to add some life and interest to our services. There were a few things available, and then the floodgates opened, and the array of choices for any given prayer now is astounding. I have been spending hours every Sunday looking for music that will be uplifting, or reflective, or beautiful to listen to, or surprising, or inspiring. I look for music that we can all sing, and sometimes, I look for music that will just be fun to hear and watch. I try, every week, to offer an assortment of styles, voices, and interpretations of our liturgy.

But the “imported” music takes time, and that has required that we read rather than sing some of our favorite prayers, like R’tzei and Shalom Rav (we read these prayers silently in English, currently).

In May, when we returned to the sanctuary and began livestreaming the services, we opted to do Torah services on the first, third, and (where possible) fifth Fridays of the month; on the second and fourth Shabbat, we read Torah during the morning services. Alas, when
there was another spike in the incidence of virus cases in our area, we shut down those morning services; we will return to them just as soon as we can, and we will continue to read Torah at those services.

Now we are offering another change in our service schedule. Once a month, on a Shabbat when we read Torah in the evening, we are going to offer a service just as we did before Covid and all the high tech equipment we have acquired. The screens in the sanctuary will show the prayers, as they do now, but there will be no “imported” music. And we will
sing all the melodies we used to do, B.C. (Before Covid). We hope that this addition to our Shabbat evening schedule will bring the comfort of familiar music, and encourage everyone
to sing as we used to.

The first such occasion will be Friday, January 7, 2022. In the months that follow, we will announce the date of the “traditional style service” in this newsletter, and I will remind you about it in my weekly email message.

As long as we see that this “traditional style service” is popular, we will offer it.
So if this appeals to you, please vote with your feet and join us.

As for all the other Shabbatot of any month, we will continue to “import” music as we have been doing for 22 months now. We have access to the best new compositions, the best voices, and the best variety of styles, courtesy of the internet, and we will continue to
bring that to you, at least, three out of four weeks per month.

Variety is the spice of life

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