I hope you are well, safe, and adapting to the new way of being that Covid-19 has thrust upon us.

Last week was a busy week, moving the SWESRS office out of the building so that Deborah, Janine and myself can work from home, and getting services and other activities online. Last Shabbat we had a wonderful turn-out for services, with 65 participants joining us on Zoom for Shabbat morning, as well as bringing in Shabbat together with Candle-lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoon, and marking the transition to the new week with Havdalah on Saturday evening.

I think many of us were surprised at how much we enjoyed these online Shabbat services, feeling supported, strengthened and uplifted through connecting together in these uncertain times. Many members have commented that the power of connecting virtually is an experience we should integrate into normal community life when, Please God in the not too far distant future, we return to being together again physically.

So, please do join us this Shabbat – on Friday night, Shabbat morning, and for Havdalah – as we move into the second week of Community Life online. You can find the links to join the services, upcoming sedarim and festival services by scrolling down past the end of this message. If you need help with the technology and working out how to join by Zoom, please let the office know and we can set up one-to-one help for you. There is also a video on the Reform Judaism website, talking you through step-by-step. Just click on this link for guidance:

For many of us, worry for ourselves, for family and friends is deepening as the grip of Coronoavirus tightens. This afternoon at 3pm I will be launching the first of our Chat and Check-In sessions online. An opportunity to connect, and also a safe space to express some of the fears and anxiety that are keeping us awake at night. And maybe to talk about some of the difficult conversations that we know we should be starting up with those closest to us, so that we are prepared for the worst case scenarios.

Tomorrow evening, during Kabbalat Shabbat, we will read the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 97: Or zaruah la’tzaddik, u’le’yishrei leiv simcha, ‘A harvest of light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the constant heart’. May we find the strength and courage to stay calm and open-hearted in these challenging times, reaching out in kindness and compassion to others when we have the opportunity. And may we sow the seeds of light that we wish to sprout and flourish on the other side of the Covid pandemic – seeds of greater connectedness, of less rushing, of greater light.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Lisa