One of our congregants, Judy Schumer, introduced me to a new Yiddish word last summer: oysgezoomt. For a fascinating article on the word’s etymology, check out the article “The Yiddish Word of 2020.” Simply put, it is the feeling of being utterly fatigued by online offerings. Friends, looking into a second virtual High Holiday season, I can honestly say that I am oysgezoomt, and I’m sure that many of you are as well.
That being said, I am also feeling immense gratitude for everyone’s generosity, understanding, and patience these past 18 months of distancing. Congregants have donated and dropped off gift cards which have fed and clothed other congregants who lost their jobs. We distributed over $9,000 in relief funds. We have had members and non-members volunteer their time to come in and help us clean out the classrooms and put up and take down our new tent.
We have spent time cleaning and modernizing our classrooms (which hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned out since the ‘90s!) and curriculum. We’ve organized the loft upstairs and painted the sanctuary with a fresh coat of paint. We’re getting new LED lights thanks to a generous donation from a non-member, a donation that will not only bring us into the 21st century, but will also save us money and energy.
It is tempting to think that we are right back where we were a year ago when we headed into the High Holidays, but that would be a mistake. We have leapt forward because of your generosity, volunteer time, and connections. And we have done so while keeping one another safe and largely healthy, which is no small feat. So while we may be more oysgezoomt than we were this time last year, we should not despair that we’re running in place.
This year’s High Holidays may not be ideal, and I, like you, am dreaming of a day when we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder again as a congregation. But we have so much to celebrate together in a year of such hardship, and so much to be thankful for and proud of about what we have been able to accomplish as a congregation.
Perhaps it’s time for us to spend this preparatory month of Elul reflecting back on all the good we’ve been able to find in a difficult year. To be more thankful for the blessings of being together even if it’s online, to be humbled and grateful for our precious health and that of our loved ones, and to enter this new year in the simple joy of being alive with a thriving Jewish community here in our little city.
Rabbi Sara Zober