Sermon by Sharon Shorten (Nitzavim – 09/12/20)
Parshat Nitzavim begins with a ceremony that establishes a covenant with God. Not only are the leaders and adult males essential to this pact, but also every individual member of the community, including the women, children, the stranger within the camp-even the future generations are committed to God. Three thousand years later, this covenant continues to impact our lives.
Today is so different from what our ancestors lived through. Their trials and tribulations seem so alien to us. But are they really?
This past year, 2020, started off as just another year, some good, some bad. In January, things began to change. That is when COVID-19 began to rear its ugly head. By March, life went from good to terrible. People were becoming seriously ill. The virus was spreading rapidly, and in a short period of time, we were confined to our homes and life shut down. Family and friends were no longer accessible except by phone. We kept hearing of friends and family passing away. It was a nightmare that was unending. We all felt isolated. The internet suddenly became our friend and we began to connect again. Lo and behold, along came ZOOM. It was wonderful at first but many of us found ourselves ZOOMing out. It certainly was not the way we wanted to connect. But we persevered and made the best of what is now a big part of our lives. We knew that this would eventually pass and we would be able to meet face to face in our larger community. It would be a memory of another difficult time in history.
We are coming to the Ten Days of Repentance when we confess our individual flaws and beg forgiveness from each other. This is supposed to be the time we stand together in our synagogue as members of our covenanted community. In reality, most of us will be connected by the internet. It is not what we wanted or expected. But it is what we have.
So how do we go forward? We become the community of the people of the covenant who have survived through wars and plagues and anti-semitism and continue to stand together and be counted. I am an optimist and I see this as a blip in the history of the world. So even though we are apart personally, we are still together virtually. That gives me hope. We will pray together and reflect together and look forward to the day when we will join together in person. We will think about the positive things, like spending more time with family, and appreciating what we have and learning to relax and enjoy life. I know you will say it becomes tiresome at times, but we needed a time out from our daily lives. We will recover and go back to what was our normalcy. So let’s enjoy what we have been given and reflect on what the future of our lives.
Hopefully, next year we will all gather together in our Synagogue, and be counted as part of the Jewish community committed to the covenant of God.
With faith and hope, I wish everyone a sweet new year, one of peace and good health.
L’Shana Tova U’metukah!