The May weather is mixed, and so is the forecast for going forward into the easing of lockdown. We tack into continuing unchartered waters. So many questions swirl out of the tide-pool of uncertainties…
Will the return to work for some precipitate a second peak in the virus? Will some primary school children return to the classroom in June – is this a good thing or a bad thing? What is the cost of continuing lockdown – not just to the economy, but to those unable to access cancer and other ongoing medical treatments; to vulnerable children and those suffering domestic abuse; to people who run small businesses; to parents straining under the stresses of child care and home schooling whilst working from home?
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week – a week of awareness raising all the more important in these Covid times. Reform Judaism is holding daily lunchtime sessions from 12 30pm - 1 30pm with leading experts, covering areas including Managing Anxiety in the New Normal, to Supporting Children’s Emotional Needs and Anxieties with a return to school, to Q&A with a leading psychologist and Rabbi Miriam Berger of FRS. You can find all this and more at https://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/communities-that-care/
We face uncertainties, too, around community life for synagogues and other faith communities. Will Boris allow the opening of places of worship in July, and if so, will that be just for individual worship rather than public services? Now is the season for High Holy Day planning - yes, Rosh HaShanah is only four months away!! What are the possible options for 5781? Social distancing will certainly be with us for the foreseeable future. Already amongst the leadership of Reform Synagogues, a wide range of views are emerging, from remaining completely online for the Yamim Noraim, to exploring hybrid options: staying online as well as having limited numbers of socially distanced worshippers.
What we can be sure of, and take great pride in, is the way in which so many members of our community have stepped up to help – volunteering for the SWESRS Phone Tree, ensuring that every member gets regular phone calls during lockdown; delivering groceries and medications to those without family or neighbours nearby. On June 6th we will be celebrating the work of new and ongoing SWESRS volunteers during national Volunteers Shabbat – save the date for your diary!
And we can also be sure of our new, vibrant prayer community – attracting increasing numbers of members, and building a safe, strong, close and connected community. (If you know someone who hasn’t yet taken the plunge to join us online, for services or other activities, please give them a call and encourage them to come online.)
Gathering together in this way, drawing strength from each other’s collective presence, gives us the patience and resilience to live with the ongoing uncertainties in our world, and in turn to reach out to others in kindness, compassion and love.
Stay safe, Be Well and Wishing You All a Shabbat Shalom,