There is a joke in the Reform community, that we overuse the Shehecheyanu. Whenever we do something for the first time, or have a big moment, we say the prayer. And while every occasion may not merit a blessing like that, there are truly times when thanking God is appropriate.
Personally, I said it countless times a few weeks ago when our son, Toby, became Bar Mitzvah. I said it when I hugged my parents for the first time in over a year. I said it when I watched my son on the bimah chanting and singing. I said it when I realized that the room was filled with family and friends – people who I had not been able to sit with in far too long.
And as Shabbat began last week, if there are Shehecheyanu moments, that was it: we gathered in person for Friday night services for the first time in well over a year. In that moment, we lived out every aspect of that prayer. We offered thanks; we prayed and sang.
Thank you for giving us life. Amid a deadly pandemic that is still ongoing and real, we were able to be together, to laugh as one, to listen, learn, and engage in sacred worship. We are grateful for having made it through (and of course recalling with blessing those who did not). Thank you for sustaining us. It has not been easy, and not everyone is ready to resume in-person worship, but we are still a community, we are still a congregation. It has been no small task, and the countless volunteers, friends, and family who have helped us through and continue to provide support, are in our prayers. And thank you for enabling us to reach this moment. Again we think of those who we have lost during this time. We also appreciate the wonder that is being able to gather again – and that we can still welcome those who are not able to join us personally. But being able to come together, safely, is a moment of joy, inspiration, and hope.
We are not through this pandemic, and there will likely be more hard times ahead. But at the risk of overusing them, there will also be more Shehecheyanu moments as well. I look forward to celebrating them all with you.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ
וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Rabbi Benjamin Zober