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Thoughts on the Pandemic

07/21/2020 02:14:56 PM

Jul21

by Cantor Dara Rosenblatt

This article was highlighted in the July/August 2020 bulletin.

מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ עָנָ֖נִי בַמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ׃   

From a narrow place, I called out to the Infinite,
who answered me through the Divine Expanse.
 

יְהוָ֣ה לִ֭י לֹ֣א אִירָ֑א מַה־יַּעֲשֶׂ֖ה לִ֣י אָדָֽם׃ 

The Infinite is with me, for I have no fear.   Psalm 118: 5-6

Psalm 118 has resonated with me since the pandemic began. I think often about the power of being in this narrow place. This moment of constriction, restriction, and an opportunity for self reflection and introspection. At this time we have the true power to find the divine within ourselves and in our own lives. 

For me, I have noticed that the greatest challenge is the lack of handshakes, high fives, and hugs. As I worked through this challenge, I found myself yearning for a replacement. There is not an adequate one, but in this moment I have found something that has brought great comfort to me during this time of physical distancing. 

As some of you may remember, last November, a beautiful hand-painted tallit (prayer shawl) was draped over my shoulders, and the whole of my body was covered, as I stood in front of our congregation as you installed me with the holy responsibility to be your cantor. This moment of wrapping in a tallit, symbolized a powerful moment of accepting the role, one of reverence and respect. I remember my installation clearly, with love, deep gratitude, and honor to be blessed with the opportunity to serve this kehilla kedosha, or holy community. 

Every Shabbat in the present day, I am reminded of this moment. I wear the tallit that was placed on me at my installation while sitting at my dining room table, facing my laptop for services. It drapes me in its glory, its beauty, its essence, and connects me to the community that I have grown to love and care for so deeply. When I wrap myself in the tallit each Shabbat morning, I feel comfort, a warm hug, from the kahal (community) that this tallit represents. It is not just a prayer shawl, it is so much more, a means to feel something that I miss dearly.

In a world where we are physically distanced from one another, in a world where we are unable to embrace, I have been able to find this physical touch through the wrapping of a tallit, keeping my community close to me, inherently making me closer to the Infinite. 

Being alone may be overwhelming at times, but I always know my spiritual family is near, and for that I am beyond grateful. 

I want to invite all of you to embrace this moment of opportunity; invite you to find the Divine in this time of physical distancing. Being in our homes allows us to utilize space, time, and ritual objects differently. Bring ritual into your homes, into your heart, and into your soul. Find a comfortable chair that you can sit in and listen in to Shabbat services and only sit in that chair on Shabbat. Bake challah each week with your family and share pictures with your friends. Reach out to create holy encounters, through virtual Shabbat dinners, or a weekly Shabbat Shalom phone call. Take full advantage and embrace the newness and the challenge, and keep an open mind. Take this time to reflect, connect, and be a part of something bigger than yourself. You might surprise yourself and be amazed. 

And, as we continue in the virtual sphere, we know that this is difficult. I, too, have feelings of loss and sadness. We miss each other, we miss our typical routines, and we miss our synagogue community. But even with all of this, we truly hope you will create something meaningful with us. It is in our own power to make it the best it can be and to make the most of this challenging moment. We can do it. We will get through this and we will be stronger for it. 

In this moment of narrowness, let’s remember God is always with us and inspires us to connect. Connection, no matter virtual or physically distanced, is what keeps us close to each other and full of hope. 

If there is anything we can do to be of support to you during this time, let us know. Temple Beth-El, myself and Rabbi Knopf, are here to be present for you, and be with you through this time. We pray to the Infinite that we will make our way out of this narrow place, and look forward to sharing time with you virtually and B’ezrat Hashem, Gd willing, in person soon. 

A Note from the Cantor

01/22/2020 09:00:28 AM

Jan22

A Note from Cantor Rosenblatt and Rabbi Knopf

12/04/2019 11:25:54 AM

Dec4

A Note from the Cantor

09/23/2019 09:30:23 AM

Sep23

A Note from the Cantor

09/16/2019 09:30:23 AM

Sep16

A Note from the Cantor

09/10/2019 12:32:28 PM

Sep10

A Note from the Cantor

09/02/2019 10:01:26 AM

Sep2

D’var Torah from January 19, 2019Parashat B’shallach

01/23/2019 12:08:39 PM

Jan23

D’var Torah from January 19, 2019

Parashat B’shallach

 

This Shabbat brings together multiple occasions. Parashat B’shallach, marking Shabbat Shira, our Shabbat of Song, in which we chant Shirat HaYam, the Song of the Sea, Martin Luther King Day, AND Tu Bishvat. As I was thinking about what I would say this morning, I realized that it might be nearly impossible to connect all three of these days. But actually, all three of these days have things in common.

 

First of all, let’s talk a little bit about each. Parashat Beshallach, our Torah portion in which we read this morning, recalls our exodus from Egypt, through the red sea. We stand together at as we chant and sing the Song of the Sea (Shirat Hayam), which reenacts the miraculous parting of the waters and the Israelites journey from slavery to freedom. Though the journey following our path across the sea was not ideal, stricken with dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion, the Israelites continued to forge forward.

 

Now, let’s move to Tu Bishvat. Tu Bishvat falls on this Monday. What is Tu Bishvat? Well let’s first break it down. Tu (tet-vav - 9+6) is the numerical equivalent of 15 and we are in the month of Sh’vat. The 15th of Sh’vat. This day marks the New Year of the Trees. According to the Mishneh, we have 4 new years, and this is one of them. Often on Tu Bishvat we celebrate by planting trees, eating different fruits, and sometimes even having a Tu Bishvat seder. Today, Tu Bishvat brings conversation of ecology and discussions of our environment. We cannot take the natural world around us for granted, and the celebration of Tu Bishvat connects us to our earth and all that it encompasses.

 

Martin Luther King Day also falls on this Monday. We remember MLK with honor and the utmost respect. He was a leading historical figure and paved the way for our country during the Civil Rights era. His words are spoken often during this time of year. In his “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963, he said:

 

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

….

 

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

 

[Sing] My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,    From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

 

Now, let’s pause for a moment. Beshallach, this week’s Torah portion invites us to reenact our daunting escape from Egypt. Through the Red Sea and the parted waters we sang a song together. The physical landscape of this moment surrounds the Israelites with water, walls of water, allowing the Israelites to walk through on dry land. Our journey is marked by the natural resources that surround us and keep us safe, away from harm’s way and the Egyptians who are close behind us.

 

Though no trees appear in our exodus story from Egypt, the water and the dry land play an extremely important role in the Israelites survival and journey to freedom. What a blessing.

 

As we see in MLK’s speech, we hear him note, the rough places may be made plain and the crooked places made straight, which to me sounds like the journey of the Israelites across the parted waters of the Red Sea. And then a song is sung?! [Sing Az yashir moshe and translate with melody]. What parallels are taking place here.

 

Our natural resources that surround us not only function as metaphor, but they also become a part of our journeys. In looking at Parashat Beshalach, Tu Bishvat, and MLK Day, I realized that there was actually more in common that I imagined. Though Tu Bishvat seems like an outlier, there is so much to say about how nature plays into our collective historical landscape. Land and people are interconnected, so are we as a Jewish people, and our stories and songs are interwoven with the history of our country and our fight for freedom.

 

Shabbat Shalom.


 

Religious School  Parents 

10/11/2018 10:45:19 AM

Oct11

Cantor Dara Rosenblatt

 

Dear Beth-El Hebrew School Parents,

With the High Holy Day season behind us, I wanted to take this opportunity to more formally introduce myself. I am Cantor Dara Rosenblatt, and as the new Cantor at Temple Beth-El I am so excited to learn, pray, and make music with your children at the Hebrew School!

 

Over the course of this year I will be leading T’filah with your children on Wednesdays and Sundays. Rabbi Knopf, Ramona, and I have been discussing a new T’filah plan and look forward to implementing some new elements to our prayer experience for the children. You are always welcome to join us for T’filah at the school on Sunday mornings at 11:30AM*, and I also encourage you to join us at Beth-El on Grove Avenue for services, Monday and Thursday morning at 7AM, as well as on Shabbat. Our Shabbat Mincha service, typically around 1:30PM on Saturday, is a great (short) service for kids too. We would love to have you with us for any of these you may be able to attend.

 

In addition to our T’filah, I will be teaching the sixth-graders Torah and Haftarah cantillation this spring in preparation for their B’nai Mitzvah. I’m looking forward to teaching trope (cantillation) and getting to know the students that will soon be preparing to become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in the coming year. And, if you yourself are interested in learning how to chant Torah, be on the lookout for more information about how to learn in an adult education class this spring.

 

I look forward to seeing you soon at Parham and/or at Grove. Join me for a “Meet and Greet” with coffee and donuts on Sunday, October 21st from 9AM-9:30AM in the Parham School lobby. In addition, please don’t hesitate to be in touch to introduce yourself, and/or if you have any questions about my role at the Hebrew School.

May this year be a fabulous one with great learning, music, and smiles!

Best wishes, Cantor Dara Rosenblatt Cantor.Rosenblatt@bethelrichmond.org

*Please note T’filah will take place on alternating Sundays and Wednesdays. Check the school e-news for T’fillah dates.

CORRECTION - A Note from Cantor Dara Rosenblatt

07/02/2018 01:44:23 PM

Jul2

A Note from Cantor Dara Rosenblatt / Service Details

07/02/2018 10:01:23 AM

Jul2

Mon, March 1 2021 17 Adar 5781