by Rachel Lefkowitz, Synagogue Administrator
Back in March, I called a friend who is not able to leave the house. “There are so many places I can go!” she said. “Sometimes I go to the bedroom, other times to the living room or kitchen.” By now this is a tired joke, but at the time, I appreciated her putting a good face on a tough situation.
Myself, I miss going to the places I used to go and being in them in familiar ways. I drive to Bet Ha’am each week, but the building isn’t much fun when only I am there. My voice echoes strangely in the hall. Things creak in startling ways. I take photos of the garden (find them on Instagram and Facebook) because the sanctuary is emphatically empty. We are all working hard to strengthen our spirits and community with online services and programs, but I still feel sad for what we’ve lost.
I don’t want to miss the past to the extent that I reimagine it as perfect. Instead, I ask myself to describe what loss I feel most keenly. The answer always starts in the same place: we have lost our physical bodies in a physical space. We have a beautiful sanctuary and garden; we have a large school building. To have them sit empty is not what anyone intended. Then again, no one intended to create an online community that allows people from far and near to join us by phone or computer. As I try to imagine a future where we don’t “return to normal,” but simply return, I wonder if we can take the best parts of the past and mix them with the best parts of the present.
It is uncomfortable to think that return won’t mean that we pick up exactly where we left off. After all, we worked hard to create the Bet Ha’am that we loved. But I’m hoping that we can imagine a future for ourselves that may be different from the one we thought we’d have, but that would still be exciting, interesting, and vital. Please let us know if you have ideas or thoughts for what the future might be. And please know that whatever the vision is, the office staff is here to support the work that will make it happen.