Naso 5780 – Back to Camp

By: Alan Bach

Shabbat Shalom.

This week has been very memorable for the Kehillah as we all came together as a community to discuss how we will meet again in person. The last time we met in person was on March 14 after some debate if we should follow the lead of others and even hold services.

It has now been 12 long weeks. Our small shul sits idle. Our Sefer Torah remains at parasha Ki Tisa awaiting the exodus. We have maintained visual contact, we have Zoomed our Kabbalat Shabbat service each week, we have had study sessions, we have held Seders over Zoom, and two Yizkor services. But I miss that personal element. I miss the ability to shake a hand, to give a hug, to be with my Kehillah family. While Zoom may be the next best thing, it is not the same. I, like many others spend my workday on video conference calls and have little desire to interact socially and religiously in this manner. But on a positive note, I have enjoyed the joyful melodies of Kabbalat Shabbat which remain in my head all weekend long.

This week, the proposal was presented to the membership to re-open the Kehillah for Shabbat morning services on a limited basis. It is a scary time, and everyone voiced concerns rightfully so. The plan was presented this past Wednesday with lots of detailed discussion to bring our community back together in person.

This week, in Parsha Naso, we read the following from chapter 5, verse 1, “The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Instruct the Israelites to remove from camp anyone with an eruption or a discharge and anyone defiled by a corpse. Remove male and female alike and put them outside the camp so that they do not defile the camp of those in whose midst I dwell”.

Here we have it, the Israelites were instructed to social distance those that were infected. We could easily substitute Covid-19 to the verse, and we would be current on today’s situation with one major difference. We have been instructed by our healthcare professionals to keep our distance from each other to avoid the potential spread of the virus.

So now we have reached that moment in time when we are ready to once again gather together in our sacred Beit Kenesset, our Shul. We are ready to slowly open the Kehillah to allow us to meet in person once again. To see each other in person once again.

Wednesday night we had an open discussion with many viewpoints. We challenged each other’s opinions. I voiced my concerns of having a virtual minyan using Zoom, and others voiced their desire to be together in person and on Zoom for our Shabbat morning service. In the end we came to an acceptable compromise solution for me, and I believe for most others.

What I realized through this effort is how much the Kehillah means to us all, the strength of the community that we have built over the past seven years and how each and every one of us desire to be together. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation dictates that many cannot join in person due to health or other concerns. I accept and respect each person for their position.

Yesterday I received a flurry of emails from many. One wrote a very well stated and convincing email of their belief in how Jewish law changes over time and how we should accept a Zoom minyan for those that are not able to attend in person. Another wrote about their beliefs in tradition expressing a stricter adherence to hallacha. Another sent an email upset that they were not provided adequate time to review the plan in greater detail in order to provide their opinion. And thanks to a beautifully written email to the Kehillah from Rabbi Michele Sullum, I realized why we were all so passionate with our desires to come together in some way or some form. I realized that we each voiced our wants and desires not to be obstinate, but the desire to achieve the same goal. The beauty of our Kehillah is the mix of beliefs and observance levels. There is no right and wrong, and we strive to accommodate all levels of beliefs.

I believe we all want to be back together in some way or some form. We all feel strongly about our opinions because what we have been forced to do over the last three months is no longer adequate. We all long for more. We long for the restart of our Shabbat morning service, we long to once again roll the Sefer Torah forward past the book of Shemot, past the book of Va’Yikra and into Bamidbar. We long to hear our collective voices sing in prayer, to celebrate simchas together, to comfort each other in times of grief and to sit across the table and enjoy a meal together. We long to be together once again.

So, it is time for us to return to camp whether in person or virtually through Zoom. And soon, it is my prayer that we will all feel comfortable in returning to be with each other once again for a complete service. I cherish what we have built and I cherish each one of you. Whether we are behind a mask, or behind the screen of Zoom, we will soon be together in Shul again.

And just as the Lord instructed Moses in this parasha to speak to Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel, I offer the same blessing to our Kehillah that has been given from generation to generation.

Yivarechecha Adonai viyishmirecha
May G‑d bless you and guard you.

Ya’er Adonai panav elecha veechuneka
May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you

Yeesa Adonai panav elecha viyasem lecha shalom
May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.


I now invite everyone to join in joyful song to welcome the Sabbath.

Teachings, Words From Our Members|