Dear TEE Community,
Jewish tradition provides us with a ritual when moving into a new home. We call it “hanukkat ha-bayit,” “dedication of the house,” and mark the occasion by putting a mezuzzah on the door. During this Hanukkah season we will be doing something for which there is no established ceremony – moving out of the building that has been our Temple home for over five decades. While we know that our community is not the same as any physical space, it is, nevertheless, a significant leave taking, deserving of commemoration. In ordinary circumstances, we would have gathered all together to mark the occasion. But we are experiencing the extraordinary circumstance of a pandemic and so must find other ways to do so.
While Judaism has no formal ritual for leaving a home, it does have one for transitioning from one time to another. Havdalah, “distinction,” is the ceremony marking the end of Shabbat and the beginning of a new week. To honor our transition from one space to another, we will gather together online for a special Havdalah at 7 pm on Saturday, Dec 19. Saturday night is traditionally a time for storytelling and this event will center around the stories – the recollections – we have of both the building and those who have made it so special.
For any one who would like an opportunity to be in the building physically once again, it will be open from 11 am – 3 pm on Sunday, Dec 13 and Thursday, Dec 17. To observe COVID precautions we will limit the number of people in the Temple at any one time and ask that you wear a mask. Throughout the building there will be poster sheets and markers to record your thoughts and memories. Everyone is also encouraged to bring a camera or phone to take pictures. After our move we will gather these mementoes along with any others you would like to share and create an album for our new Temple library.
Something I value about Jewish tradition is the way in which it teaches us to embrace the fullness of human emotion. At the end of a wedding ceremony, we break glass to acknowledge that even the happiest of times contains some sadness because life is never perfect and those we love cannot be with us forever. Conversely, when we mourn the dead we say a prayer in praise of life and its Creator, reminding us of the joy we had, even the midst of our grief. As we mark this significant moment in the life of our community, I hope our observances provide an opportunity to share this bittersweetness present in all transitions while also affirming our dedication to the relationships and values that are with us at all times and in all places.
Rabbi Drorah Setel